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Thursday, July 17, 2008, 04:45 pm PT (07:45 pm ET)

iPhone 3G shortages causing major delays for AT&T, businesses

Apple promised that iPhone 3G and its iPhone 2.0 software would be more suited to business, but a severe shortage of the device could force companies to wait as long as two weeks before they see their orders, and is forcing many home customers to go without at the same time.

Memos circulating around AT&T and obtained by AppleInsider are warning AT&T business sales consultants that any workplace-related orders placed from Sunday the 13th onwards won't be fulfilled for at least another 10 to 14 days.

The telecoms company isn't asking orders to be halted but says new orders will immediately appear as backordered.

And while both AT&T and its corporate clients are aware that sheer demand is the cause, the delay is severe enough to frustrate corporate buyers, few of whom are used to seeing unexpected shipping delays.

"I have an enterprise account and could not get an iPhone for any price," one such buyer tells AppleInsider. "I thought Apple had finally figured out the whole business thing but alas it seems not."

The situation is little better for AT&T's bread-and-butter personal customers. An informal poll of 50 AT&T stores nationwide by CNET reveals that not one of the locations has any iPhone models to sell, and none of these stores can promise new shipments within the week.

These stores are receiving short term shipments but can't guarantee a minimum amount. As little as 10 may ship one day, while 100 ship the next.

For its part, AT&T spokesperson Jenny Parker says the carrier is delivering "tens of thousands" of the new iPhone per day but will only add that it hopes to restock stores as quickly as possible.

Apple, by contrast, still has at least some of its own stores that claim to have iPhones, though these are also running low with multi-hour lineups a frequent sight.