Apple updated its "How to Buy" iPhone 4S page earlier today with instructions detailing how US and Canadian customers can go about getting an iPhone 4S. The company is now insisting that prospective buyers first reserve the new phone online before heading into an Apple Store to buy it. From the page:
iPhone 4S is available in store by reservation only. Reserve yours after 9:00 p.m. tonight for pickup tomorrow. When you come in, you'll choose a carrier and plan, and we'll get your iPhone up and running before you leave the store.
This shouldn't be too much of a shock after Apple announced an astounding 4 million iPhone 4S sales in the first weekend. Apple obviously wants to control the flood of people heading for retail stores; reservations are a way to avoid sending people away disappointed should they show up expecting to get an iPhone 4S only to be told the store is sold out.
However, MacRumors notes that it seems unlikely that Apple would refuse to sell unreserved phones to walk-in customers and theorizes that Apple will take reservations online, but will then sell any extra daily stock to customers on a walk-in basis.