The nation's biggest telco Telstra today said it would sell Apple's 3G iPhone 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 6am on Friday 11 July to sell the iPhone to early customers. Normally the stores open at 8am.
The shortlist of Telstra sites selling the iPhone raises questions about whether the telco 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, in the following areas:
- Canberra Centre in Bunda St, Canberra, ACT
- Macquarie St in Dubbo, NSW
- Casuarina Shopping Centre, NT
- Todd Mall in Alice Springs, NT
- Queen St Mall in Brisbane, QLD
- Sunshine Plaza in Maroochydore, QLD
- Marion shopping centre in Oaklands, SA
- Bathurst St in Hobart, TAS
- Moorabool St in Geelong, VIC
- Chadstone shopping centre, Dandenong, VIC
- Westfield Doncaster in Doncaster, VIC
- Hannan St in Kalgoorlie, WA
- Morley Galleria in Collier Road, Morley, WA
Telstra spokesman Peter Taylor said the telco's move to sell the iPhone nationwide meant regional Australians would not be left out of the launch and would be amongst the first to buy the iPhone in Australia.