SAN FRANCISCO Apple Inc. said Monday its online stores in the United States and Great Britain are sold out of the iPhone, a sign supplies are being winnowed ahead of the launch of the device's next generation featuring faster Internet surfing speeds.
The company, based in Cupertino, Calif., confirmed that the iPhone is out of stock online but added that brick-and-mortar stores run by Apple and iPhone carriers, including AT&T Inc., might still have units available. Apple has been known for clearing out its inventory of a certain product ahead of a major upgrade.
Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris declined to comment on reasons for the shortage and on Apple's plans for an update to the
device, which is widely expected to be unveiled in June at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco.
The paucity of iPhones for sale in some markets comes as Apple is hustling to meet its goal of selling 10 million of the hybrid iPod-cell phone-Internet surfing gadgets by the end of 2008. So far, Apple has sold 5.4 million iPhones, according to the latest data as of the end of March.
One way Apple's expanding the iPhone's reach is by inking deals with wireless carriers around the world, even breaking with its pattern of requiring exclusivity to sell in a certain country.
On Monday, four mobile providers in the Asia-Pacific region announced partnerships with Apple to bring the iPhone to their regions later this year.
SingTel will sell the gadget in Singapore, Bharti Airtel Ltd. in India, Globe Telecom Inc. in the Philippines and Optus in Australia, the companies said in a brief joint statement, without giving details.
SingTel owns Optus and holds a 30.5 percent stake in Bharti and 44.5 percent in Globe. SingTel has about 2.3 million mobile subscribers in Singapore and around 7 million in Australia, according to data as of Dec. 31, 2007. Bharti currently has about 64 million subscribers, while Globe reported a 21.3 million mobile subscriber base for the quarter ended March 31.
Last week, the top mobile phone operator in Latin America, America Movil SAB, also announced plans to deliver the iPhone to its region. America Movil has 159.2 million subscribers in 16 countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Mexico.
In recent weeks Apple has also signed deals with Rogers Communications Inc. to sell the device in Canada; Milan-based Telecom Italia SpA to sell the iPhone in Italy; and Vodafone Group PLC, the world's biggest mobile company by sales, to sell it in a total of 10 countries, including Australia, India, Italy and Turkey.