I must admit, every time the iPhone “sells out” a cynical part of me thinks, “yeah right.” It is good business for Apple to run out of product, it buys them a lot of free press that they would not get if they had a steady stream of iPhones going into customers’ hands. “The iPhone is Selling Like Hotcakes” is one news story. “iPhone 5 Sold Out” and “New Shipment of iPhone 5s Delivered” is two. So you break up your shipments, hold onto product and get a tremendous amount of time in the papers. People don’t mind waiting a couple of weeks.
Here’s the thing: this time, people are waiting much, much longer – especially for the CDMA version of the phone. There seems to be no shortage of 64GB models, but if you, as I did, order the infinitely more popular (and somewhat cheaper) 32GB model then you may be starting to wonder what is happening. I ordered my iPhone 5 a month ago. I was told that it should be delivered in less than two weeks. Now, a month later, I am still waiting.
At the two-week mark, I called the phone store, they told me that I was ninth in line. Clearly, I had just missed out – “oh well,” I thought, “I can probably expect it in a couple of days. Two weeks and three phone calls later and I seem no closer to getting my phone. Granted, I live in the Japanese countryside, but given that I am only an hour and a half out of Tokyo, I don’t think that is the issue. Now here is the thing: holding things up for a couple of weeks to build a little mystique is cute and everything, but any longer than that starts to become really, really annoying. Take it too much further and it is something that people remember the next time that they consider buying a phone. Personally, I’d rather walk into the store and walk out with a Galaxy SIII than wait a month to get a phone and I am probably no different to most people – and what Apple is really good at, better than pretty much any company in the world… is understanding most people.
Thus it seems that either Apple vastly underestimated the number of phones that they would need (doubtful), overestimated their customer’s loyalty (possible), or the manufacturing issues that we keep hearing about are more significant than we have been led to believe. My money is on the latter.