"Launch Day" has finally arrived and it shouldn't come as a surprise that the lines are longer than the supplies (check out MMi's launch gallery to see for yourself). That's what we're hearing from scores of readers and understanding based on the early accounts from many others.
For hours now it has been reported that entire nations have virtually depleted their entire iPhone 4 stock, with the UK, France, and Japan chief among them. As this YouTube video from outside Apple's Regent Street, London store this morning proves, getting your hands on this device may not be as easy as once expected.
What's true abroad is also true at home for Apple. The in-store availability of iPhone 4s could be completely decimated before the end of launch day. With demand for the iPhone 4 outpacing the initial demand for the iPad by enormous leaps and bounds, it appears the first 600,000 units preordered will ultimately prove just a drop in the bucket for total sales when all is said and done for iPhone 4.
For some prospective but still empty-handed buyers, there was a glimmer of hope today when some reports surfaced that Wal-Mart would, in fact, have some iPhone 4s in store on launch day. Unfortunately, despite the frenzy that set in on Twitter and the foot traffic that resulted in Wal-Marts within hours, most iPhone 4 seekers were heartbroken to learn that many Wal-Mart stores only stocked one or two of the devices so far. Not one or two cases - one or two actual devices. Yes, only two iPhone 4s.
As reported this morning by CNN Money, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and RadioShack had previously suggested that iPhone 4 walk-in purchases might not work out so well on launch day. After all, only 1,500 of the 3,600 Wal-Mart stores in the US are even offering the handset today. These extremely limited supplies at incredibly scarce outlets have frustrated and confounded Apple fans like few other product launches ever have. Of course, the shortages aren't limited to Apple stores and Wal-Marts. "Inventory remains constrained, and it is expected that many of the iPhones that Best Buy receives will go first to customers who reserved one during presale," Best Buy warned on the eve of launch.
According to AT&T, demand for the iPhone 4 has already proven 10 times higher than it was for the iPhone 3GS. And, for the most part, there's video to back up that claim.