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Verizon asks employees to delay iPhone purchases

Wireless carrier cites "unprecedented" demand for the device in asking employees to postpone purchase plans, according to a memo obtained by AppleInsider.

Verizon Wireless apparently doesn't want to see the iPhone in its employees' hands anytime soon. Bonnie Cha/CNET

Citing expected and "unprecedented" demand for Verizon Wireless' forthcoming iPhone 4, the carrier is asking its employees to delay purchases, according to a memo obtained by AppleInsider.

"Customers and non-customers alike have waited for years to see this product on America's most reliable wireless network. Demand will be unprecedented," Verizon Wireless Chief Operating Officer John Stratton wrote in an e-mail addressed to "U.S.-Based Management Employees. "To help ensure we meet customer demand for iPhones, Verizon is urging employees and their families to postpone purchases of the popular smartphone, whether online or in retail stores, for the time being."

"I know customers aren't the only ones who are excited--employees are, too. While I share your excitement, over the coming weeks we all need to do our part to meet our customers' needs--this means putting our customers first," Stratton wrote.

Verizon Wireless representatives confirmed the authenticity of the e-mail, saying the request was in line with the company's culture.

"We have asked employees to make a short-term sacrifice so customers have the benefit of being the first to own a Verizon Wireless iPhone, Verizon spokeswoman Brenda Raney told CNET. "Once we are certain that we have plenty of inventory for customers, we will allow employees to purchase the iPhone 4."

The new Verizon iPhone is expected to be a hot seller when it goes on sale February 10. Verizon executives have not provided exact projections for iPhone sales, but they say that analyst estimates of 11 million new subscribers for the iPhone are likely accurate.

The company announced last month that it added more than 800,000 new subscribers during the fourth quarter as it prepares for the launch of the Verizon iPhone. When Verizon announced the impending availability of the iPhone on its network, the company said current customers would be allowed to preorder the device beginning tomorrow, giving them first crack at the CDMA iPhone.

Updated at 8:47 a.m. PT on Thursday with comments from a Verizon spokeswoman.

Related: CNET's full iPhone coverage