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Stores await next batch of iPhones

LAWRENCEVILLE - A week after going on sale, local AT&T stores are still waiting on more iPhones to come in stock.

The iPhone, which is Apple Inc.'s first attempt at a cellular phone, sold out at nearly all of AT&T's 1,800 wireless stores within a few hours on June 29, said AT&T spokeswoman Dawn Benton. There are eight AT&T stores authorized to sell the iPhone in or near Gwinnett County.

Reports said most Apple stores didn't sell out until Monday, but there are no Apple stores within the county.

The iPhone, which allows users to make calls, listen to music and surf the Internet, is only sold at AT&T stores, Apple stores and on Apple's Web site.

Benton said AT&T is not sure when more iPhones will arrive at local stores and could not say how many of the devices stores could expect to get in future shipments. She did say stores are expected to be replenished regularly.

Customers who waited in line on June 29 and did not receive a phone were given the option to pay for it and have it shipped to them. Benton said AT&T is focused on getting phones to those customers.

Apple's Web site said online iPhone purchases should ship within two to four weeks and only two phones are allowed per person.

Anyone looking to get their hands on an iPhone immediately can check out eBay.com. A few iPhones offered with overnight shipping were selling for as much as $685 on Thursday afternoon - a 37 percent increase from the retail price of $499. Many of the phones which were priced above retail value appeared not to be selling, however.

Retail sales of the much-hyped iPhone went well in the first week, Benton said, but she could not disclose specific numbers.

"We couldn't be more pleased with the customer response," Benton said.

Reuters news service said analyst estimates for iPhone sales in the first weekend ran as high as 700,000.

Of the phones sold, a very small percentage of customers experienced problems activating their phones during the first few days of sales, Benton said. Problems occurred because of large customer volumes and customers transferring corporate cell phone accounts to personal iPhone accounts.

"The overwhelming majority of customers were able to activate their phones within a few minutes," Benton said.

The iPhone is unique in that its activation is done on a personal computer using iTunes rather than being done at an AT&T store.