Apple drains iPhone 5 pre-order supplies in an hour
Yes there are supply constraints, but demand was more than Apple expected, says analyst
Computerworld - Apple today exhausted its supply of the iPhone 5 within an hour of opening its online store for pre-orders, and now is telling customers that their orders won't ship for two weeks.
AT&T, Sprint and Verizon still showed a Sept. 21 delivery date for new orders as of 11 a.m. ET, however.
According to reports, Apple ran though its inventory by 1 a.m. PT, or an hour after its store opened to take pre-sale orders. Meanwhile, some carrier stores were difficult or impossible to reach as they were overwhelmed by customers.
As of 11 a.m. ET, Apple's store noted "Available to ship: 2 weeks" for iPhone 5 orders.
Last year, Apple made it through much of Oct. 7, 2011 -- the pre-sales launch for the iPhone 4S -- before running out. AT&T and Verizon also emptied their inventory that day last year.
"I think it's demand," said Brian White of Topeka Capital Markets, of the quick sell-out. "Apple wouldn't want to upset customers by running out in just an hour."
There are supply constraints, said White, who noted that they're inherent in any mobile product launch to one degree or another, calling them "part of the game."
"Cook said [Wednesday] that this is the fastest launch in Apple's history, with nine countries rather than seven [in the first wave]," said White. "He wouldn't have planned such an aggressive launch if he thought that supply would be a material event."
If Apple had been overly concerned about supply issues, argued White, it would have reduced the number of opening markets from nine to, say, five. It didn't.
Before Apple's Wednesday unveiling of the iPhone 5, White had forecast 5 million to 5.5 million units pre-sold worldwide over the first weekend, which included today, tomorrow and Sunday. White had pegged opening-day sales of 1.3 to 1.5 million.
His numbers were bullish: Estimates for the weekend by the most aggressive Wall Street analysts had topped out at 6 million, with many lower than that.
Last year, Apple said it sold 4 million iPhone 4S smartphones in the first three days.
While demand for the iPhone 5 may be higher than expected, there have been reports, as White acknowledged, of problems at Sharp, one of the three suppliers of the smartphone's display module.
The iPhone 5 relies on not only a larger screen than its predecessors, but uses "in-cell" technology, which does away with a separate touch-sensitive layer under the glass and instead integrates sensors into the liquid-crystal display (LCD) itself.
"I've felt that, on the display, Apple should be pretty caught up sometime in early 2013," said White when asked to predict when supply and demand would be in balance. "The display manufacturers should hit their yields in November or December."
That may be little solace to those who wanted an iPhone 5 a week from today, but instead will have to wait.
White, however, wasn't one of those. "I was up at 3 a.m. [ET], and I got mine," he said.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Apple will 'set the world on fire' with iPhone 6 sales
- The other Apple economy: $2B in devices on eBay
- Apple sends users scrambling for OS X Yosemite
- Apple grows Mac sales by 18% on the back of the MacBook Air
- What to listen for during Apple's earnings call today
- Timeline: How Apple's iOS gained enterprise cred
- Apple and IBM: A winning combo for IT
- IBM and Apple ties go way back
- Apple quickly counters China claim of iPhone spying
- China calls the iPhone and iOS 7 threats to national security
Read more about Macintosh in Computerworld's Macintosh Topic Center.
- SANS: Next-Generation Datacenters = Next-Generation Security This whitepaper takes a look at some new technology that may allow security teams to implement more flexible and capable protection models in...
- SANS: Protecting Virtual Endpoints with McAfee Server Security Suite Essentials SANS review of McAfees Server Security Suite Essentials that address some of the emerging challenges of securing virtual platforms and cloud environments.
- Safeguarding the Next-Generation Data Center Use of virtual and cloud servers has exploded. Unfortunately, security often lags behind. McAfee recommends looking at innovative solutions in order to erect...
- Aberdeen: Securing the Evolving Datacenter This report highlights ways security technologies and services are evolving to provide the visibility and control needed to deploy workloads flexibly in the...
- Is SQL Server AlwaysOn really as powerful? Tips and Tricks from the field With the introduction of AlwaysOn, Windows Clustering Services is now more critical than ever.
- What Does it Take to Deliver a Superior Customer Experience? The Two Top-Rated Online Retailers, B&H Photo and Crutchfield Electronics, Share Their Secrets Discuss practical CX tools and service methods such as contact center agents and the use of realtime speech analytics to help contact center... All Macintosh White Papers | Webcasts