July 9, 2008 6:22 AM PDT

Australia's Telstra restricts iPhone supply lines

Australia's biggest telephone company, Telstra, on Wednesday said it would sell Apple's iPhone 3G in just 15 stores nationwide from Friday morning, including only one store in Sydney.

A list distributed by the company said its T-Life branded stores in George St. (Sydney) and Bourke St. (Melbourne) would open at 6 a.m. local time on Friday, July 11, to sell the iPhone to early customers. Normally the stores open at 8 a.m.

The short list of Telstra sites selling the iPhone 3G raises questions about whether the telephone company has received a limited allocation of the phone, which could lead to stock shortages. "Stocks in the first week will be limited, so the best bet is to head in early," said Telstra spokesman Peter Taylor.

Telecommunications analyst Paul Budde said he was sure there would be significant pent-up demand for the iPhone.

"In such a hype situation nobody knows what is going to happen," he said. "If the hype proves to be hype, there will be enough phones, but if there is a real rush then they might have a problem."

Competitor Optus will open its Sydney store six hours earlier (at midnight), but only to supply those who have already paid a deposit to buy an iPhone. Vodafone is also planning launch events in Sydney early Friday morning.

Gartner research director Robin Simpson said it was hard to tell about shortages until the iPhone went on sale, but there was no doubt the initial shipment wouldn't be as big as most would like.

The analyst suspected Telstra could be limiting the amount of stores because it had to properly train staff to activate the iPhone when customers bought them.

"Apple is usually fairly strict about retail training," he said. "It might just be a pragmatic consideration."

Telstra will also sell the iPhone from some 13 other stores nationwide.

Taylor said Telstra's move to sell the iPhone nationwide meant regional Australians would not be left out of the launch and would be among the first to buy the iPhone in Australia.

Renai LeMay of ZDNet Australia reported from Sydney.

See more CNET content tagged:
Telstra Corp., Sydney, Apple iPhone, Apple iPhone 3G, Australia

2 comments

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With the Telstra release of the iPhone only hours away now it may interest most people to know that Telstra stores are being instructed that NO iPhone will be sold under contract and allowed to leave the store until it IS locked to the Telstra network. Yes that means that the iPhone will be the ONLY mobile sold by Telstra under contract that is "tethered" to the Telstra network. Also you may be interested to know that if you do not sink the phone with an iTunes account on your home PC or Mac you will not be able to use the phone features of the iPhone. Still want one from Telstra?????????
Posted by TheGeelongWhistleBlower (2 comments )
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Oh and if your thinking of buying the iPhone outright from a Telstra or tLife store and then using your Telstra sim think again. Telstra stores are being instructed not to sell the iPhone outright due to the limited supply. It seems that the more iPhones that Telstra can tether to the network the more iPhones Apple will supply so the above story is true, there is a shortage of iPhones to Telstra and its the customers that are REALLY going to pay as a result.
Posted by TheGeelongWhistleBlower (2 comments )
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