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Tuesday, September 23, 2008, 12:00 pm PT (03:00 pm ET)

Apple iPhone shoppers can now start buying process at home

Apple this week announced its new "Begin at Home" iPhone buying procedure which is designed to help accelerate sales of the device during the upcoming holiday shopping season.

The process, which was detailed by AppleInsider over the weekend, lets shoppers enter their billing information and pre-qualify for iPhone's subsidized pricing from their home computer, and then make an appointment to pick up their new handset at a local Apple retail store.

The four-step process first requests that customers enter their credit card, billing address, age, and social security number so that an automated credit check can be performed. If successful, customers can then select a preferred calling plan and review their iPhone order.

"Once you’re done, choose your closest Apple Retail Store and let us know when you’d like to come in to complete your purchase," Apple says. "An Apple Specialist will be ready to help you personalize your new iPhone 3G, make calls, browse the web, receive email, and more."

Apple will still require that all iPhones undergo a final activation before leaving an Apple retail store.