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The latest version of the iPhone, the 3G S, launches this Friday. It's no surprise that just like last year, shortages of the iPhone have been predicted.

If advance orders are any indication, the demand for the iPhone 3GS may outstrip the at-launch supply.

Both AT&T, the exclusive carrier of the iPhone in the United States, and Best Buy have sold out of inventories for Apple's latest smartphone.

Apple was still taking orders on its Web site Tuesday, but the June 19 delivery date is not a guarantee. Likewise, AT&T posted a message on its Web site that indicates advance orders will shop seven to 14 days after the order is placed -- on a first-come, first-served basis.

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"It's no surprise that the 3GS, which is going to be one of the hottest technology products of the year, is seeing strong demand despite the current economic situation," said Michael Gartenberg, a vice president at Interpret. "That bodes well for Apple and reaffirms the position that consumers care about the overall value of a product, not necessarily the overall price of the product." [Source: Yahoo News]

According to Gartenberg, advice for those wanting to purchase the 3G S on Friday is simple, "Get up early, get to the store nearest you as quickly as you can."

The early bird gets the tech
Last year I rolled up to the local AT&T store 30 minutes before it opened (Hey, I'm not a morning person), only to find a line of 50 or so people in front of me, with a few having camped out the night before. I still got an iPhone that day, but it was close. After waiting in line for over two hours (and this was in July...in Texas!), an AT&T rep had the daunting task of informing everyone in line behind me that they ran out of iPhones.

However, I wonder how things will be this year, since many have been able to pre-order their iPhones via Apple, AT&T or Best Buy. If you didn't pre-order, you can still try to purchase one in store Friday. Be prepared to wait in line though. In addition to the stores mentioned above, Wal-Mart will also have the iPhone 3G S.

Tips for purchasing
If you have not pre-ordered, here are some tips that may help you purchase an iPhone this week [Source: PC World]:

• Apple Store
You can still place pre-orders online and receive a phone on Friday, according to representatives at numerous Apple Store locations across America. Placing an order now, not surprisingly, will give you the best shot at walking out with one this week. Retail locations will open at 8:00 Friday morning.

• AT&T
If you placed your order with AT&T before June 12, you should be in good shape to get your iPhone 3G S on Friday. Orders placed anytime after the 13th, however, won't ship for about a week, a company spokesperson tells me. The same applies whether you place the order in-person at a store or via AT&T's Web site.

Retail locations open at 7 a.m. Friday for anyone with a reservation. No reservation? You can still show up early and try your luck. Customers without pre-orders will be let into the store starting at 9 a.m. They will, however, receive lower priority than those with orders already on file.

iPhone 3.0 Firmware

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If you already own an iPhone and are not concerned about upgrading to a 3G S, the iPhone 3.0 firmware will be released tomorrow, June 17. This software update features cut, copy and paste, search (email, contacts, songs, apps, etc.), MMS (once AT&T makes it available), voice memos, a Find My iPhone feature (for Mobile Me customers), and various other updates.

You can read all about iPhone 3.0 firmware here: Apple.com - iPhone 3.0 OS Update

Are you going to purchase the new iPhone?