updated 07:15 pm EDT, Fri June 15, 2007
iPhone distribution plans
AT&T said it would expand the number of stores carrying Apple's much anticipated iPhone sometime after the initial launch and that consumer device only will be sold at retail stores owned by Apple Inc. and AT&T as well as the online Apple Store. The iPhone goes on sale starting at 6 p.m. local time on June 29th; however, the AT&T spokesman Fletcher Cook told the Associated Press that the the limited availability will only be for the initial launch and that the company plans on selling the iPhone through AT&T's Web site and through its other channel outlets and partners. AT&T, which owns 1,800 retail stores, said that some of its other franchise outlets that carry the AT&T or Cingular name will also sell the iPhone sometime after the launch.
In all, the report indicates that AT&T has 8,000 franchise outlets and retail carriers; some of the retailers usually carry AT&T competitors as well. Cook told the AP that the AT&T-owned stores are branded that way, whereas other franchise outlets still carry the Cingular name.
AT&T has reportedly planned launch events for each of the stores and has notified stores not carrying the iPhone to expect additional traffic as well as given them advice on how to respond to customer inquiries about the device. Apple's own stores are reportedly gearing up for the launch by canceling personal shopping appointments to keep staff available for the expected frenzy.
Some retailers began advertising iPhone pre-orders on the internet -- at $100 above the expected retail price; however, it is unclear how those stores will procur the phones customer or when they will deliver them to customers, or whether they will be available unlocked or without a contract.