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Friday, August 15, 2008, 04:45 pm PT (07:45 pm ET)

Apple already padding iPhone 3G supply for second-wave carriers

Although Apple is just coming to grips with iPhone 3G demand among the device's first batch of carriers, the next phase of new carriers should already have the stock it needs to handle its own introductions, AppleInsider has been told.

Those familiar with the launch plans cite Singapore as an example of Apple's likely ability to cope with the early sales rush when the next group of carriers begins offering iPhone 3G on August 22nd.

SingTel is now understood to have registered over 50,000 interested users ahead of its nationwide rollout for the handset, suggesting a high level of demand in a city state whose total population is just nearing 4.6 million. However, people aware of the plans say the telecom provider has already been taking shipments of the phones and has enough supply to match this number of potential customers when the doors open to iPhone sales in one week's time.

The large berth of iPhones reflects how well Apple will stock at least some carriers with its fast-selling device and is a stark contrast to the problems encountered with pre-order campaigns for the original July 11th launch. O2's advance ordering system, although biased towards existing customers, suffered a near-total shutdown within minutes and ultimately sold out within hours. Customers locked out of this system were asked to wait in line with others for retail iPhones.

These and many other retailers worldwide quickly sold out and ultimately forced Apple to devise solutions at its own stores to cope with demand, going so far as to extend store hours on a semi-permanent basis and issue rainchecks to prevent day-long queues.

Whether or not this future round of carriers will truly match demand more easily than O2, AT&T, and others is unknown and may be affected by the prices themselves. Many of these remain unpublished and, in some cases, won't be available until just before the official debut in a respective time zone. Singapore and others are expected to give the iPhone away for free for customers of certain plans, according to AppleInsider's sources.

Apple, however, has expressed little concern over its long-term supply and told investors in July that it was "very confident" that it was ramping up production quickly enough to handle additional countries' iPhone 3G demand without a significant impact on those already cleared to sell the touchscreen device.