Vodafone all out of iPhone 4, Apple on slow boat

Apple's promised July 30 launch date turned into an iFarce.

Although neither Vodafone (initially) nor Apple (still) would come clean, the iPhone 4's NZ launch has effectively been delayed by nearly a month.

The four-hour launch
Just four hours after finally going onsale at Vodafone stores yesterday, after a chaotic morning, iPhone 4 disappeared again.

The handset went onsale at a small number of Vodafone retailers at midday yesterday, with only customers willing to to sign a 24-month contract allowed to buy.

The restriction didn't stop queues of around 50 forming outside various main street stores as word spread around the internet that the phone was about to go onsale.

But just four hours later, it was sold out.

Many in the queues tweeted to complain that there were only a tiny number of handsets 

Vodafone spokesman Paul Brislen described the result as "just astonishing", although without an indication of how much stock was available for sale, it's hard to gauge the exact level of astonishingness.

Vodafone online: "in the coming weeks"
On Vodafone's iPhone 4 website, as yesterday, there is a message saying online sales will begin "in the coming weeks".

Apple online: three weeks 
Apple opened its NZ online store for iPhone orders last night. Delivery (with free shipping) is promised in around three weeks.

The Apple Store-only sales period (which makes Vodafone handset subsidies irrelevant, for the moment) is a boon for Telecom and 2degrees, who both have iPhone 4-compatible Mico-SIMs onsale, and are actively trying to steal iPhone 4 customers from sole official carrier Vodafone.

No handset subsidies will be available until Vodafone begins taking online orders, or the iPhone 4 returns to Vodafone retail.

Bumpers: September 3. The cause the delay?
Earlier customers told NBR they were referred to Apple's website or a dedicated iTunes app to claim their free bumper case (the company's solution to the so-called Grip of Death reception problem).

One who ordered his iPhone via Apple's website claimed he was not offered a bumper at any point in the transaction.

Those who ordered bumpers online Friday were told the deliver date would be September 3 (see Apple's official bumper offer page for New Zealand here).

Which begs the question: is Apple short of iPhone 4s? Or bumpers? Or both?.

White out
An Apple spokeswoman told NBR the white model of the iPhone 4 will not be available until later in the year due to manufacturing difficulties.

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