Apple's imminent launch of the iPhone, confirmed for a US release on 29 June, has been much-hyped, even by Apple standards.

The latest, somewhat unsurprising, news suggests that there will be widespread shortages of the new handsets for some time to come.

Rather than just doom-mongering this prediction is based in solid fact; a recent Merrill Lynch report suggests that initial monthly shipments of the iPhone will only be around the 200,000 to 300,000 mark, eventually climbing up to a million units to be shipped in 2007.

It seems highly unlikely these kind of numbers will satisfy demand. AT&T has reportedly been swamped with over a million calls from consumers wanting information about the next must-have gadge.

Un-attributed quotes from industry analysts suggest that as Apple won’t be able to meet consumer demand for the new phones they will deliberately restrict sales of the iPhone until well into 2008.

Similar conspiracy theories cite an unnamed AT&T rep who has apparently said that the phone operator's stores will be purposely keep the supply of iPhone low, something that is apparently commonplace for high-end handsets, for financial, rather supply reasons.

Apple insiders apparently have revealed that they are expecting a "back order situation" to come into immediate effect from launch.

Channel Checkers (a source for primary channel data in America) recently surveyed the AT&T stories that will be selling the iPhone and discovered that 64% of 36 stores reported that they were keeping a waiting list, one of which had over 1000 names signed up.

AT&T has officially denied this stating that iPhone sales will be on a strictly first come, first served basis.

Looks like Steve Jobs' aside to blogger Arianna Huffington at the recent All Things Digital conference; "It will be a madhouse ... People will be lined up around the block, sleeping on the sidewalk to get one" will bear fruit.

Although we're not sure his follow up friendly advice on how to bag an iPhone; "Go to an AT&T/Cingular store. Most people don't know that they will be selling them too" is much cop.