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Wednesday, February 02, 2011, 05:20 pm PT (08:20 pm ET)

Citing "unprecedented demand" for iPhone, Verizon urges employees to wait to buy

In anticipation of "unprecedented demand" that could outstrip the initial supply of CDMA iPhone 4s, Verizon Wireless has sent a corporate memo strongly urging its employees to hold off on buying the handset for themselves and their families "for the time being."

“Customers and non-customers alike have waited for years to see this product on America’s most reliable wireless network. Demand will be unprecedented," wrote Verizon Wireless Chief Operating Officer John Stratton in an email sent to "U.S.-Based Management Employees," a copy of which was obtained by AppleInsider.

"To help ensure we meet customer demand for iPhones, Verizon is urging employees and their families to postpone purchases of the popular smartphone, whether online or in retail stores, for the time being," the email said.

In the email, which carries the subject "Focus on Customer Is Key to Verizon iPhone Launch," Stratton highlight the Feb. 10 launch of the CDMA version of the iPhone 4 as a chance "to show those millions of people what it means to be a Verizon customer — providing them the best network, joined by the very best customer service and support, all adding up to a world-class customer experience."

“Part of that experience is ensuring we’re able to meet our customers’ needs in the midst of what will surely be unprecedented customer demand," the email continued. “I know customers aren’t the only ones who are excited – employees are, too. While I share your excitement, over the coming weeks we all need to do our part to meet our customers’ needs — this means putting our customers first.

“After all, that’s the way we do business. That’s the Verizon Credo in action. This is an historic moment in time to rally together and show our loyal customers and new ones what our culture is all about.”

Earlier Wednesday, Apple issued a press release reminding Verizon customers that they can preorder the iPhone 4 starting at 3 a.m. Eastern, midnight Pacific on Feb. 3.

Qualified customers will also be able to order the Verizon iPhone 4 on Wednesday, Feb. 9 through the Apple online store for delivery, or reserve for in-store pick-up beginning Feb. 10.

Verizon has said it will have a flawless execution of the iPhone launch, though limited supply is a concern for the carrier. Last week, the largest wireless carrier in the U.S. confirmed rumors that it had hired thousands of customer service representatives to handle the iPhone launch.

For its part, Apple admitted, during its first quarter 2011 earnings call, that it was having trouble keeping up with demand for the iPhone 4. Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook said their efforts were "not enough."

"We do still have a significant backlog," Cook said. "We are working around the clock to build more." According to Cook, Apple expects "huge" results from the Verizon launch, but is unable to predict when supply and demand will equal.