Apple recently made some updates to the way that you can purchase iPhones. Although they still don’t let you make the transaction online and have the phone sent to you, you can start all the pre-sale prep work before actually heading into get your phone.
From the iPhone section of the Apple Store, clicking “Find Where to Buy” now takes you to the iPhone 3G Buy Page. This page allows you to walk through the information an Apple Store employee would ask you when you go into to make your purchase and allows you to then send that information on to your closest Apple store.
Set a time that you’d like to make the purchase, head into Apple, and they should be all ready for you with your phone.
This is an interesting approach for Apple, and I’m sure many people wished they had this option when the phone was first released. It may have shortened the lines and saved a lot of people time. Additionally, it will time Apple Employees have to spend with new iPhone purchasers and instead lets them continue to do their best to sell customers other Apple products.