Apple and its mobile operator partners started selling the iPhone 3G in another 21 countries today, while two long-standing partners in the US and the UK reported mixed messages on how much stock they had on hand.
In the second rollout of the iPhone 3G, Apple introduced the smart phone in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, India, Latvia, Lithuania, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia and Uruguay.
With today's additions, Apple's iPhone "reach" is 43 countries. Previously, it has said it will have the iPhone 3G in 70 countries by the end of the year.
Last month, Apple's chief financial officer, Tim Cook, announced that the company would expand its iPhone distribution into 20 markets today, and promised that inventories -- which were very tight when he spoke to Wall Street analysts on July 21 -- would be sufficient to launch in the additional countries.
iPhone 3G stocks in the U.S. have increased, according to both Apple's availability tool and statements by AT&T Inc. Every Apple store that was checked for this article, for example, had a full complement of iPhones to sell: the $199 8GB model and both versions of the $299 16GB model.
AT&T, meanwhile, which said its stores had been out of the iPhone 3G since July 11, today noted that it has begun restocking those stores. In a message posted to its Web site, AT&T said: "As of August 22, we are restocking our stores with iPhone 3G. The 16GB model is available in most stores today, and the 8GB model should arrive on shelves later this week."
Since the iPhone 3G's U.S. launch, AT&T has been shunting what phones it had to customers who placed direct fulfilment orders, which required them to go to a store, place an order and pay for the iPhone. When it arrived -- sometimes as many as 14 days later -- AT&T called the customer, who then had to return to the store.
Another long-time Apple partner, however, said it was experiencing shortages that had forced it to stop selling the iPhone at its online store.
According to statements on O2 UK web site, the mobile carrier had shuttered online sales and said it had only "limited availability" of the iPhone in its U.K. retail stores. O2 has been selling the iPhone since November 2007.
"We are working closely with Apple to get additional iPhone 3Gs," O2 said. "These will be coming in on a weekly basis. [But] for the foreseeable future the only place to purchase iPhone 3G will be in an O2 Retail, Carphone Warehouse or Apple store if you are new to iPhone."
Apple continues to face questions from users about the reliability of the iPhone, however. Users have complained of dropped calls, poor signal strength and slower-than-promised data download speeds since mid-July, and have flooded the company's technical support forum with gripes. Those complaints continued even after Apple released a software update it said improved 3G reception.