Without The Channel Can Apple Hit Its 10 Million iPhone Mark?

The company has said it hopes to sell 10 million of its sleek smartphones in 2008, but Wall Street analysts are wondering how Apple plans to accomplish this with recession looming and 1.7 million iPhones currently "missing" -- that is, they were sold by Apple but not activated by wireless service provider AT&T.

AT&T is also the only company, aside from Apple, authorized to sell iPhones in the U.S.

Analysts have been speculating that Apple's missing iPhones are everywhere from storage vaults to the gray market to the streets of India and Russia.

During the holiday season, Apple sold 2.3 million iPhones, but to hit its target needs to average 2.5 million in sales each quarter this year. Analysts speculate that the Cupertino, Calif.-based company will have to broaden its carrier base outside the U.S. where it has a 5-year exclusive contract with AT&T.

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Where does that leave the solution providers who have the ability to fold these hot-commodity smart phones into lucrative business deals?

Nowhere. In spite of their protests, solution providers still can't sell iPhones, which they say is unfortunate, because they could add value and help Apple hit its numbers while making money for themselves.

"We're hoping every day that they'll change their mind. Our company is an Apple specialist so we focus a large portion of our energy on all products marketed by Apple, so not having the phone incompletes our product line," said Charlie Thomas, director of corporate sales for New York-based Tekserve.

"We thought when the phone was released that there was going to be the traditional way of selling it, like activation and the normal things you'd do at a Verizon or AT&T store. We didn't realize it was a box you hand to somebody, and we think we could hand a box to somebody also," Thomas said.

"We use a lot of the phones in our Apple-based enterprise that we have internally, so we could actually help our customers use them and forward their mail to them and a lot of the issues we see people having. We do feel like we would add value to their customer base," Thomas said.