Some might say this tool would have been useful, ooooh, about two and a half months ago. Now that the lines have cleared and customers can get in and out of Apple Stores fairly quickly with a shiny new iPhone 3G in hand, Apple has gone live with its online sales tool just like we predicted. Apple’s new online purchasing tool let’s customers select and pay for a new iPhone with a service plan from the comfort of an internet connection, and then head down to a local Apple Store to pick it up and activate it. Think of it as the next generation of Chinese takeout, only you end up with a new phone instead of some tasty Moo Shu. No, it’s not the at-home activation we’ve been waiting for but at least by using this option you’ll be minimizing the time spent in your local Apple Store. As everyone knows, the odds of you spending money on a sweet new MacBook Pro despite the fact you definitely don’t need it increase by 3% for every minute you spend standing there gawking at it.