August 05, 2008, 4:25 PM — Every Apple Inc. retail store Tuesday reported it has iPhone 3G smart phones to sell, but Apple's U.S. cell phone service partner, AT&T Inc., is still filling back orders placed up to two weeks ago and has no supplies in its brick-and-mortar outlets, the companies' Web sites revealed Tuesday.
As of 12:30 a.m. Eastern time Tuesday, all 190 U.S. Apple stores showed iPhone 3G phones in stock. Apple's own inventory-checking tool reported that 56.8% of the stores had all three models on hand.
The situation is dramatically different than it was just two weeks ago, when Apple's inventory widget claimed that only 23% of the Apple retail stores had any iPhone 3Gs to sell.
AT&T, however, hasn't been able to replenish its in-store stocks for walk-in purchases since the iPhone 3G's July 11 launch. Instead, it continues to use its supplies to fill back orders placed by customers, a spokesman confirmed.
Buyers can order an iPhone at an AT&T store using the company's direct fulfillment program. The store notifies the customer when the iPhone 3G has arrived, at which time the customer must return to the store to pick up and activate the phone. "We continue to deliver iPhones to direct fulfillment customers every day," said AT&T spokesman Wes Warnock in an e-mail Tuesday. He acknowledged that stores don't have iPhones for sale to impulse buyers.
AT&T's backlog is running 13 to 14 days, according to an online message updated daily.
Three weeks ago, Wall Street analyst Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray & Co. predicted that it would take Apple two to four weeks to refill its pipeline. It appears that Apple has met that forecast, at least in its own retail stores.
Supplies may soon tighten, however. Last month, Apple executives committed to rolling out the iPhone 3G in about 20 more countries Aug. 22. Although Apple has not specified which markets are next in line, speculation has fingered Chile, the Philippines and Singapore, among others.
The hardest-to-find iPhone 3G at Apple's stores Tuesday will be the $199 8GB model, which comes only in black. That version is available in 109 stores, or 57.4% of the outlets. Supplies of the $299 16GB iPhone 3G are much more plentiful: Apple's stock tool reported that 97.4% of the stores have the white model in stock and 97.9% of the stores have the black device.
Two weeks ago, the 16GB black iPhone 3G was the model least likely to be available.