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Apple works to fill demand

Photo by Steve Karnowski

Photo by Steve Karnowski

SEATTLE -- The iPhone 4 has arrived, but for some people the wait continues as Apple sprints to keep up with fierce demand for its latest gadget.

From Tokyo to San Francisco, some stores started selling out of Apple Inc.'s newest iPhone just hours after it went on sale Thursday. Some would-be buyers walked away disappointed; tensions grew at Apple stores that hadn't run out.

In Aventura, Fla., Loren and Veronica McHenry held out hope, even after miscommunications landed them at the back of the line. They were told Wednesday that no one was allowed on mall property overnight, but returned the next day to learn 120 people had camped out at a nearby parking lot.

As the crowd pushed closer to the store, Apple employees started yelling that the fire marshal was going to shut the store down unless people moved back. The McHenrys were shoved out of place and behind a large group of people who refused to budge from their spots. Loren McHenry, 42, said two men in front of them threatened to fight each other rather than move.

Outside New York's Fifth Avenue store, Jasmine Cordova, 25, said that given the hype and advertisements surrounding the launch, ''they should make sure to stock enough.''

It seems even Apple was surprised by the number of people who wanted to snap up the fourth version of the iPhone. More than 600,000 had rushed to pre-order iPhones on the first day they were available, prompting Apple and its exclusive wireless partner in the U.S., AT&T Inc., to stop taking orders for pickup or shipment by Thursday's launch. On Apple's website, new orders weren't promised for delivery until July 14.

Those who didn't order in advance lined up outside Apple stores in the hopes of snagging one on a first-come, first-served basis.

Apple spokeswoman Natalie Harrison said demand was ''off the charts,'' and that the company was working hard to get phones into customers' hands as quickly as possible.

Some stores sold out completely within hours. Brian Marshall, an analyst for Gleacher & Co., said certain Apple stores likely had enough iPhones to last into today before selling out. A new shipment could be in stores as early as Saturday, he said, but more likely won't arrive until early next week.