Today, Apple’s US online store has started taking orders for direct shipments of the iPhone 3G. Previously, the iPhone was available only in retail stores when purchased from Apple, although AT&T offered sales both in its own retail stores and through its online store.

     The new distribution method is valid only for customers new to AT&T, while existing AT&T customers will have to pick up their iPhones at local Apple retail stores. New customers are taken through a series of screens in which they must submit their billing address to allow AT&T to run a credit check, select their rate plan, and either reserve an iPhone for pickup at a local Apple store or complete the purchase and have the iPhone shipped directly to them.