Apple, AT&T sell out iPhone 4 pre-order supplies

Even with online ordering fiasco, iPhone 4 well runs dry in less than a day

Despite persistent problems Tuesday with iPhone 4 online ordering, U.S. customers exhausted the supplies Apple and AT&T set aside for delivery June 24.

Late Tuesday, Apple replaced the iPhone 4's June 24 delivery promise with "Ships: By July 2nd." The reduced-priced iPhone 3GS, an 8GB model that sells for $99, retained its June 24 ship date, however.

Even earlier in the day, reports surfaced that AT&T had run through its iPhone 4 supply and was telling customers that further pre-orders would not be received by customers until "June 25 or later."

Late Tuesday, AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel declined to comment on whether AT&T had sold out of the iPhone 4 units it had set aside for June 24 delivery.

Tuesday night, AT&T's Web site returned the message "Pre-orders for iPhone temporarily suspended" when attempts were made to reserve an iPhone 4.

According to a message posted to Radio Shack's official Twitter account, the retailer exhausted its iPhone 4 supply about 90 minutes after it began taking pre-order reservations at some of its stores.

The combination of ordering snafus -- both AT&T and Apple's online ordering processes collapsed at times on Tuesday -- and the run on iPhone 4 supplies left a bad taste in some customers' mouths.

"After literally hours spent trying to order the phone online today, I was never able to reserve one for delivery on June 24. Now at 10 p.m. I finally got through and managed to order one that won't be shipped until July 2," said someone identified as Woodwyn on an iPhone support forum thread at 10:22 p.m. Pacific Tuesday. "This is the most unacceptable experience I have ever had with Apple. I've put in the time and gotten absolutely nothing to show for it. Apple on the other hand has a ton of free press about how popular the iPhone is that all of their stores were swamped and their servers went down!"

The iPhone 4 sell-out came significantly sooner than last year's depletion of iPhone 3GS inventories. In 2009, AT&T didn't empty its pre-order shelves for five days, and Apple was still taking orders and promising at-launch delivery a week after the company unveiled the 3GS.

With prelaunch supplies spent, U.S. customers who want an iPhone 4 on June 24 will have to visit an Apple, AT&T, Best Buy, Radio Shack or Walmart store.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@ix.netcom.com.

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