Apple iPhone 4 launches, stock levels minimal

Either Apple has been very clever or very foolish with today's launch of the iPhone 4. That probably depends on whether you got your hands on a handset first thing today.

Stock availability, it's fair to say, is minimal. The official Apple stores are swamped with punters wishing to get their hands on one, while the network shops have very limited stock for launch day.

How limited? Well, O2 is only selling to existing customers, with queues outside most stores from 7am today. Walk past one now, you'll probably still see a queue snaking round the corner. Vodafone queues are less (as expected with less renewals). But stock levels there aren't great. A visit to one local store resulted in us being offered a 16GB model after a modest wait, but 32GB were pretty much non-existent.

Vodafone also cleared all its initial online stock before 7am this morning, with pre-orders now being taken for an unconfirmed date in the future. Our local Vodafone store also told us that stock would not be replenished instore in the near future either, so it's online or not at all with that particular network.

As for the other networks? Well, Orange seemed to be selling online first thing, but if you try and get one now, you'll just get an out of stock message. No word from either Three or T-Mobile as yet, but neither has officially announced tariffs, so no surprise there. We think stock may land there next week, but we're not 100 per cent sure.

So a day that's certain to end in disappointment for many and with restocks being talked about in weeks rather than days, it's not going to get any better any time soon. Perhaps this launch was just a little too rushed.

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