Apple Inc. no longer accepts cash for iPhone purchases, and now limits sales of the cell phone to two per person in a move to stop people from reselling them.
The new policy started Thursday, said Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris. Before then, there was no cash restriction and the purchase limit was five per person.
"Customer response to the iPhone has been off the charts, and limiting iPhone sales to two per customer helps us ensure that there are enough iPhones for people who are shopping for themselves or buying a gift," Kerris said. "We're requiring a credit or debit card for payment to discourage unauthorized resellers."
[There was no word on whether AT&T's retail stores had also stopped taking cash for iPhones.]
• Click here to read how the problem isn't a 'shortage' of iPhones, but hundreds of thousands of units being spirited off to Europe, Asia and Canada to run on third-party networks.
More than 1.4 million units of the hybrid cell phone-iPod have been sold since it debuted on June 29, according to Apple. It is expected to be a hot gift for the holidays.
Apple thinks some people already have purchased multiple iPhones to resell, including those looking to modify, or "unlock," the phones so they work on networks other than Apple's carrier partner in the United States, AT&T Inc.
Apple estimates that buyers of 250,000 of the iPhones sold so far intended to unlock them, Apple's chief operating officer Tim Cook said in a conference call with analysts last week.
Apple's attempts to prevent that "unlocking" activity, which included a software update that blocked the workarounds hackers had developed, have frustrated users — and sparked two lawsuits.
[Analysts estimate Apple is paid about $18 per iPhone per month by AT&T, meaning it loses about $450 over the life of a standard 2-year contract for every unit "lost" to another network.
In order to comply with French law, Apple will have to sell an unlocked version of the iPhone when the gadget goes on sale in France in late November, possibly creating another source of iPhones for customers in the rest of the world.
By the end of this year, the iPhone will be "legitimate" in only four countries: the U.S., Britain, France and Germany.]