iPhone 3G day- another false shortage?

Iphone_3g_trioToday’s the big day and everywhere you look on the interwebs you see pictures of lines of folks waiting to get their 15 minutes of fame.  That’s the amount of time that AT&T says it takes to activate each iPhone sold.  I decided this morning to see for myself if there is big demand for the iPhone 3G here locally and headed for my AT&T store since it’s just down the street.  All Apple stores and AT&T stores opened at 8 am to start selling the phone so I drove up to the AT&T store at about 8:15.  This is a small AT&T store in a strip center, not a big outlet or anything.

I admit I was surprised to see over 50 people in line waiting to get in the store.  I spoke with a few of them in the back of the line and most of those folks were at their second location, having given up at the first they went to pre-8 am due to the long line.  While I was talking to them an AT&T rep came out and informed the folks toward the end of the line that they would not have enough phones to go around but that those who waited could take advantage of their "direct fulfillment" program.  He explained how it worked and it’s basically a "pay us now, take delivery later" program.  Much to my suprise most of those in line decided to wait it out just to get in to pre-pay for their iPhone 3G.  I asked the rep how long they’ve been told to estimate delivery of those directly fulfilled iPhones and he said 2 – 3 days.  I then asked him how many iPhone 3Gs they had received at his location and his response was that all AT&T stores selling them received 20 8GB and 20 16GB phones.  That doesn’t sound like very many to me.  I have to admit that the demand for the iPhone 3G at launch is bigger than I thought it would be.  Nice marketing, Apple.