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iPhone 4S Pre-Orders Sell Out 327

Posted by timothy
from the it-was-a-black-friday dept.
Perhaps to no one's surprise, the just-announced iPhone 4S has been been leaping off the shelves ... in advance of it ever hitting shelves at all. In fact, as reported by numerous sources (here's the WSJ's version), the company's pre-launch inventory has all been sold — and they only started taking the orders on Friday.
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iPhone 4S Pre-Orders Sell Out

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  • by asto21 (1797450) on Sunday October 09, 2011 @02:29PM (#37655296)
    WTF are you even talking about? iProducts have been selling out for a while now. How is this news?
    • by gl4ss (559668)

      well, it is a surprise of sorts that they still haven't figured out how to make enough of them for the launch - being that the launch day is just a day they chose on a calendar at their leisure.

      but how much was the pre launch inventory? like, in actual units. I'm sure there's plenty of places taking pre-orders still. and the stack at at&t's product database is maybe different than the one at apple stores..

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by JustOK (667959)

        well, it is a surprise of sorts that they still haven't figured out how to make enough of them for the launch - being that the launch day is just a day they chose on a calendar at their leisure.

        uh, marketing...if they fulfilled everyone's desire at first, there would be no one left. Leaving some wanting will also tend to increase the number of people wanting it, up to a point

      • by teg (97890)

        well, it is a surprise of sorts that they still haven't figured out how to make enough of them for the launch - being that the launch day is just a day they chose on a calendar at their leisure.

        Why is that a surprise? Waiting half a year while building an inventory you may sell (or not, if you release a lemon) makes much less sense than selling them as soon as you make them. Your cashflow is better and your risk smaller. Also, production is likely less optimal now than it will be in 9 months... both for the phone, and its parts.

    • by Macrat (638047) on Sunday October 09, 2011 @03:02PM (#37655524)
      It's a surprise to all those people who wrote articles saying that few people would by the silly "upgraded" iPhone 4S and would wait for the "revolutionary" iPhone 5.
      • by Pieroxy (222434) on Sunday October 09, 2011 @03:15PM (#37655622) Homepage

        These people are stupid, and everyone knows it, maybe except themselves. The iPhone is a good platform and people having one generally like sticking with it. There is such a thing as being "good enough".

        My iPhone 3GS is showing signs of fatigue and I'm getting a 4S whenever I'll be able to get my hands on one. Because I like it. Because I like to tinker with stuff and my phone is not one of this stuff - mostly because of a lack of free time.

        So I tinker with my desktop, my servers in my 45U bay in my garage. And I have an iPhone. And I like it. Enough to buy a new one.

        • Given the length of phone contracts is usually two years, I think it makes sense to do a major release every two and a functional release in between.

          The iPhone 4S has a good feature set and anyone with a 3G or 3GS is probably a prime market for the upgrade.

          Steve jobs did believe the future 'revolution' would come from software, so we should be watching the software as much as the hardware for signs of improvement.

          • by Pieroxy (222434)

            I actually plan on buying the 4S unlocked from Apple. It's less expensive over the course of two years ;-)

    • by klui (457783)
      My, what short memories people have. I admit it is too early to tell whether the 4S will be a success but many of the coverage I've heard or read expressed what a let down the introduction was.

      http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/05/us-apple-asia-idUSTRE7940JQ20111005 [reuters.com]

      Rival smartphone makers could exploit a rare letdown by Apple in the launch of its new iPhone 4S model, which failed to wow fans, and grab a bigger share of the most lucrative part of the phone market.

      http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/breako [yahoo.com]

      • by amiga3D (567632) on Sunday October 09, 2011 @03:35PM (#37655808)

        This isn't the first time that industry "analysts" talked down an apple product that promptly flew off the shelves. It's pretty obvious that these guys' articles are not consulted by the customers that want these products. I still remember the dozens of articles I read about how the iPad would never sell. The dozens of articles about how zune would crush the iPod, etc., etc., etc. I read industry pundits' articles because I'm curious and like to hear peoples' opinions but I take them all with a full shaker of salt. Most of them don't really have a clue.

        • by SteveAyre (209812)

          To be honest, the spec is a large jump in CPU, memory and graphics power. The camera's much better, it's double the download/upload speed and Siri is quite a significant new feature.

          The only problem is it's labelled as 4S not 5, when everyone was expecting it to be a 5. That makes them feel its an updated phone when actually it is a significant update. If they'd just launched it as the iPhone5 no-one would have been describing it as a let-down. Well, except anyone complaining that it still looked the same.

        • This is probably due to the fact that most journalists are good with words but poor with quantitative and qualitative analysis.
    • Buzz (Score:2, Informative)

      by bjourne (1034822)
      Of course it is not news - it's buzz. The marketeers are pre-emptively engineering a situation in which the device can be said to have been "sold out" for example by channel stuffing [wikipedia.org]. The flock mentality ensures that if everyone thinks everyone else wants something, then they will want that thing too. It's a very simple marketing trick.
      • Channel stuffing isn't when the phones go from the factory in Shanghai directly to the buyer via FedEx. There's no channel being stuffed there. FedEx isn't the channel. The channel is retailers and distributors.

        Channel stuffing would be dumping truckloads of iPhones on Best Buy and Radio Shack and AT&T and Verizon stores, in quantities far exceeding any known demand.

      • Channel stuffing... like when we hear about hundreds of thousands of Blackberry PlayBooks being shipped, but don't see anyone actually using one?

        Or rather when we hear about hundreds of thousands of Windows Phone 7 shipments, but have never seen one in use?

        etc. etc. These are pre-orders from people with credit card numbers. Not Motorola bloviating about how many Xooms they've sent to Best Buy. These are actual sales.

  • Who is "one one"? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by afabbro (33948) on Sunday October 09, 2011 @02:40PM (#37655352) Homepage

    Perhaps to one one's surprise

    Slashdot, please get rid of rubbish like 'timothy' and hire editors.

  • Maybe on purpose? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LynnwoodRooster (966895) on Sunday October 09, 2011 @02:41PM (#37655360) Journal
    Has anyone thought that maybe Apple purposefully restricts inventory at release, thereby driving demand faster to "get in first", and also to build hype about how it sells out? Knowing what is coming, and that you'll sell millions per month after initial release, it shouldn't be such a big logistical issue to make 10 million for initial release, versus 7 million. But then, you lose the power of the marketing line "we've sold out already!" to continue driving demand...
    • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Sunday October 09, 2011 @02:48PM (#37655404) Homepage

      Or maybe is a complicated dance between getting the manufacturer to make x million in a certain time without any significant leakage of the product's specks or design. While Apple kept the idea of a modestly improved iPhone 4 pretty close to the chest (everybody was yapping about the magical iPhone 5 and a 'cheap' iPhone), they can't do it forever. They had to package and ship everything somewhere. They had to organize the event. Maybe they would have liked x + y million but just settled on what they could get.

      Don't forget, these are complex little devices and not all that easy to manufacture in quantity.

      Really no need to get all wrapped up in your tin foil - it works better without all the creases anyway.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Mashiki (184564)

        Nah. The fastest way to create artificial demand is to restrict the supply in your initial production run. In turn you're creating an artificial demand, and causing people to think that it's a very desirable product. This is marketing and economics 101 stuff.

        • by mrbrown1602 (536940) <mrbrown AT mrbrown DOT net> on Sunday October 09, 2011 @03:05PM (#37655538) Homepage Journal

          Or you could manufacture hundreds of thousands, or perhaps even millions of them, ship them to stores, and not sell more than a few hundred or thousand (Samsung? HP?).

          • by Mashiki (184564)

            I don't even own a cell phone, so I realize this is kinda moot. But both Samsung and HP had terrible marketing campaigns where they were already trying to launch a new product into an overly saturated market. This hurts even more in a downturn economy, where people aren't generally buying *OOOH SHINY* rather they're in the paycheque to paycheque.

            • by shmlco (594907)

              "This hurts even more in a downturn economy, where people aren't generally buying *OOOH SHINY* rather they're in the paycheque to paycheque."

              That explains the iPad.

              Wait.

              • by Mashiki (184564)

                It explains it just fine. I don't actually know anyone that uses one, not even in my line of work. And the people I work with, make in the 80k-150k range, putting them in the 'upper-middleclass' here in Canada.

            • The iPad had adjusted people's expectations about feature set, quality and design. Apple also created something that even novice users could use or felt was targeted at them. The HP and Samsung felt like enterprise was their focus and not consumers (at least that is what it seemed to me). Apple focused on the consumer market and made something people might want to use.

              Design is an important part of the whole experience and not an after thought.

            • by symbolic (11752)

              >> I don't even own a cell phone

              Neither do I, and every time I hear about a new release of this phone or that phone, and how it requires this contract or that contract at the stated price, I smile and remind myself how much money I've saved.

        • by iamhassi (659463)

          Nah. The fastest way to create artificial demand is to restrict the supply in your initial production run. In turn you're creating an artificial demand, and causing people to think that it's a very desirable product. This is marketing and economics 101 stuff.

          that would be true if a new iPhone didn't come out every year, so some people will hear "OH it sold out? Ok, I'll just wait a few months until the next iPhone"

          iPhones usually come out in July, so we're only 9 months away from the iPhone 5.

        • by shmlco (594907)

          As stated above, AT&T announced that they sold 200,000 in the first 12 hours... all by themselves.

          Read that again. AT&T, alone, without Apple stores, Apple Online, Verizon, Sprint, Best Buy, or Radio Shack sold more iPhone 4Ss in 12 hours than most phones sell in their first week.

          Some restrictions...

      • While Apple kept the idea of a modestly improved iPhone 4 pretty close to the chest (everybody was yapping about the magical iPhone 5 and a 'cheap' iPhone), they can't do it forever.

        That's actually not true in the slightest. The rumor sites had universally nixed the idea of an iPhone5 by the time of the announcements (or at least said, it's possible that there will be an iPhone5, but we have absolutely no evidence for it at all). The 'cheap' iPhone is the 8gb iphone4 (and the 'free' 3gs). Siri/personal assistant feature had been leaked. Upgraded camera had been leaked. I don't think there was a single unanticipated thing in the announcement beyond the odd "mail a postcard" feature and

        • The rumor sites had universally nixed the idea of an iPhone5 by the time of the announcements (or at least said, it's possible that there will be an iPhone5, but we have absolutely no evidence for it at all).

          Yep, in the last several weeks of the year long run up to the launch. Before that rumors about the magical iPhone 5 were rampant.

          Of course, the whole idea about people getting so wound up about the launch of another cell phone that they would complain about it for an entire year is pretty weird, but that's what happened.

          • Yeah sure, people can make up rumors all the time. Making up rumors is not the same as leaking or receiving leaked information. I could predict a followup to the Samsung Galaxy SIII and eventually I'll probably be right! Even a broken clock--that old thing.

            The point is, Apple did not successfully control leaks of information regarding the phone and software that was actually announced.

        • by iamhassi (659463)

          I don't think there was a single unanticipated thing in the announcement beyond the odd "mail a postcard" feature and the existence of a "Where are my Friends?" app.

          I love how you say "leaked" as if they knew. Many "leaked" larger screens and 4G and that didn't happen. [thetechlabs.com] Many said "no home button" and no 64gb since everything is "in the cloud" [iphonestuffs4u.com] but we still have the home button and a 64gb model. (more no 64gb rumors) [todaysiphone.com]

          Rumors are just that, rumors. Nothing was "leaked", reporters just threw cards up in the air and predicted some would land face up... and they were right!

          • You're reading the wrong sites :-P

            The venerable and largely reliable site is macrumors.com. 9to5mac is newer but has a good record as well. They almost always cover the same things.

            Reading the reliable sites, just about everything -- including the name 4s! -- was indeed leaked correctly. The only information about the 5 came from 3rd parties--case designers. Information about the 4s allegedy came from closer sources. This includes photographs of chips, ports, wiring, etc. False rumors are what people make u

      • by houghi (78078)

        Or maybe it isn't OR/OR but they do both at the same time.

      • It sold out in 3 days. They're either idiots, or they did it for a headline.
    • by Xugumad (39311)

      I certainly would, given how often anything that doesn't sell out at pre-order is apparently a failure :(

    • They certainly wouldn't be the first or last company to that. But until they give all the numbers it will be hard to say. They've only sid AT&T has sold 200,000 in the first 12 hours which isn't too bad especially considering that if you listened to the internet as it made it out the 4S was the worst thing ever and was the end of the iphone.
    • by aiken_d (127097) <brooks@tangent[ ]com ['ry.' in gap]> on Sunday October 09, 2011 @03:11PM (#37655582) Homepage

      Ah, the old "scarcity conspiracy" theory. It wouldn't be Slashdot without it. It's like the flat-earth version of marketing.

      Apple may know that they are going to sell out, but I guarantee you there is no way in hell that they are better off selling fewer phones than they would be selling more. Maybe someone, somewhere who wouldn't have otherwise bought an iPhone in January will now do so after remembering a shortage and thinking that signals a superior product. But thousands of times more people (which is to say, thousands of people) will go to a store with the intent of buying an iPhone and end up buying something else when their first choice isn't available. And those are customers Apple will lose for at least a year.

      Apple would rather satisfy every drop of demand at launch. Because they've decided to launch knowing they can't doesn't mean they want shortages, it just means they're better off launching today with shortages than in November (or December) with enough stock.

      • by DinDaddy (1168147)

        will go to a store with the intent of buying an iPhone and end up buying something else when their first choice isn't available. And those are customers Apple will lose for at least a year.

        I agree the shortage is not "planned", but can't imagine what you say here is true. I think the number of people who go to a store intending to buy an iphone during the launch period, and find it out of stock and buy a competitor is probably pretty small. Most will just wait the week or two.

    • Why wouldn't they do that if they can?
    • Has anyone thought that maybe Apple purposefully restricts inventory at release, thereby driving demand faster to "get in first", and also to build hype about how it sells out?

      Yes, there is always a whole bunch of people with conspiracy theories. You sell more buy selling stuff than by not selling stuff.

    • by Alomex (148003)

      Apple was heavily rumored to have hired people to stand in line during the first releases of the iPhone to increase the hype.

      The Beatles and other rock bands have admitted to paying some of the more hysterical screaming fans often shown on TV.

      • Apple was heavily rumored to have hired people to stand in line during the first releases of the iPhone to increase the hype.

        If that had happened, some of the hired people would have talked, and this thing would have _so_ backfired. Of course you can feel free to believe that Apple would employ dishonest PR tricks, but this would be both dishonest and stupid, and Apple doesn't do "stupid".

  • by Ichijo (607641) on Sunday October 09, 2011 @02:43PM (#37655372) Homepage Journal

    If they had sold them on eBay, they wouldn't have run out.

  • I currently work in a call centre for a mobile operator that has around 45% of the UKs iPhone customers (should be easy enough to work out who!), I've been speaking to people on a daily basis for months who have enquired about pre-ordering whatever the next iPhone turned out to be. The stats are a big anti-climax, but since the announcement I've been speaking to plenty of people who are upset that we're not taking pre-orders and are threatening to go to the competition.

    Sure the majority of tech savvy people
    • by jimicus (737525)

      I understand O2 stores are officially offering the iPhone "for existing customers" on 14 October. Does this mean new customers will be turned away in store? Or have you guys not been told?

      • by Pirow (777891)
        Yeah, pretty much although it wont be hard to get around (just find somebody with an unregistered PAYG SIM that's been used at least a month ago). Until stock settles down it'll be for existing customers only, existing customers are called as anybody who has had an O2 phone, dongle or home broadband for at least month before the 4th of October.
        • by jimicus (737525)

          Heh, I've been a customer for years but I'm really unhappy with my current phone. Assuming the stock's there (does anyone at O2 even have the remotest idea how long stock is likely to last in their average store?), I assume I'll be ok to march in and say "Hi. I'm still on contract and I want to buy that contract out here and now and buy an iPhone 4S"?

  • This is such a slashvertisment. I'd expect this kind of thing from Google news but we should be better than this.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm a pleased Nexus S owner myself, but I don't understand all the negativity directed toward the iPhone 4S. It has the same simplicity and UI that people seem to love, along with nifty new software like Siri. People have rarely bought iPhone for its gaudy specs anyway, but even if they did, Apple gave it a good state-of-the-art dual-core processor, good GPU, and 1GB of RAM. Sounds very solid and competitive to me - what's bad about that? They didn't change the exterior or the name? So what?

    The only gl

    • by TheGreek (2403)

      The only glaringly obvious omission seems to be sticking with 3G instead of adding LTE or HSPA+ support.

      Current LTE chipsets are too bulky and use too much power. It also has HSPA+ [anandtech.com].

  • pundits (Score:5, Insightful)

    by feldsteins (313201) <scott@scottfelds t e in.net> on Sunday October 09, 2011 @03:13PM (#37655614) Homepage

    Many tech pundits should be surprised. They were so busy writing about what a disappointment iPhone 4S was that they neglected to notice the fact that preorders sold out in one day.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Pollardito (781263)
      To be fair they wrote their reviews before Steve Jobs died and stirred up a mass hysteria over all things Apple, and definitely before preorders opened. Or are you telling me that you don't think that 10,000 articles about Apple nostalgia wouldn't drive up sales?
      • To be fair they wrote their reviews before Steve Jobs died and stirred up a mass hysteria over all things Apple, and definitely before preorders opened. Or are you telling me that you don't think that 10,000 articles about Apple nostalgia wouldn't drive up sales?

        No, but I fully expected that people like you would find some lame excuse when the iPhone 4s would sell well.

  • (AP) - Latest iteration of popular phone series sells out! Mythical Slashdot user "one one" expresses shock and surprise!

    Update 3:10 EDT (AP) - Former Weezer bassist Mikey Welsh has died. In a prepared statement, the coroners office of Burlington, Vermont stated: "At the present time, there appears to be no causal link with the unavailability of the iPhone 4S - however these results are preliminary."

  • by Sebastopol (189276) on Sunday October 09, 2011 @03:29PM (#37655744) Homepage

    "Consumers sour on Apple: Unsuccessful launch leads to glut of 4S supply"

    "Apple i4S a flop"

    "Apple at the end of its line? i4s overstock causes book to bill ratios to drop in Q1'12"

    "Apple has lost its spark: failure to sell out like other products proves i4s is a failure: stock down 20% on concerns of apple's future"

    And so on...

    its a lose lose.

  • So Google and Samsung decided they ought to delay their press conference to announce the Galaxy Nexus Prime (or whatever they're calling it) out of respect for Steve Jobs' death, but Apple went ahead and started doing pre-orders for the iPhone 4s on the day of his funeral.

    I'm not sure if Google and Samsung were being overly sensitive or if Apple was being callous.
    • I'm not sure if Google and Samsung were being overly sensitive or if Apple was being callous.

      Call me a cynic, but...

      If Apple had asked Steve Jobs whether to delay the release of the iPhone 4S, what would he have said? "No way!". If Google and Samsung had asked Steve Jobs whether to delay the release of their next phone, what would he have said? "Of course, for at least two years!".

      Seriously, nobody thinks that Steve Jobs would have wanted them to delay anything, so I don't think anything was delayed out of sensitivity.

    • by jimicus (737525)

      For the tail-end of last week, there would have been absolutely no point in announcing a major techie thing like "Fancy New Phone Launch". The media was too busy canonising Jobs.

    • So Google and Samsung decided they ought to delay their press conference to announce the Galaxy Nexus Prime (or whatever they're calling it) out of respect for Steve Jobs' death

      Ummm, I hate to break it to you, but large multinational corporations do not delay the launch of a new product that has been anticipated for months because of sensitivity.

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Sunday October 09, 2011 @04:10PM (#37656006) Homepage Journal

    Whenever Apple introduces a new model or product, there's never enough to meet demand. To fans, that must look like quite a desirable achievement, and why not? Selling out seems the definition of maximum success.

    But why doesn't Apple just make more? They aren't making the maximum amount. They're leaving some customers with money and no satisfaction. What Apple does is underestimate the needs of their customers. And is encouraged by all the PR from the "selling out - maximum success" fallacy.

    Since the 1980s Apple has been scaring businesses away from using their products for this very reason. Which business wants to depend on PCs for every one of 150 people quickly hired in Q4, but then those amazing Macs just aren't available? Who cares how good they are when you can't get them? This is not some speculative argument. I worked for Northern Telecom in the mid 1990s, when it was (famously) Apple's biggest customer. I was part of an R&D group that was in the debate there to drop Apple for Microsoft (and, I think, HP) instead. The reason was the undependable Apple supply chain. The risk (that often came true) of no PC on the desks of new hires was a constant roadblock there. And this was a company very well dedicated to Apple, in public and in capital investments. They dropped Apple.

    So long as Apple keeps having this problem, and keeps treating it like a triumph, Apple will continue to be ignored by serious businesses.

    • by am 2k (217885)

      Apple seems to be even more business-unfriendly these days. I'm pretty sure that the professional product line (now only MacPro and Logic, since Xserve, WebObjects and Final Cut Pro are already gone) will be extinguished in the mid term. They have found greener grass on another side (consumers), and so they want to focus on that. As Guy Kawasaki said in his speech about what Steve Jobs taught him [youtube.com], Apple got where it is today by not clinging to the old ways.

      • by Doc Ruby (173196)

        Consumers suffer from the same problems businesses have: no product to buy when they sell out. That supply chain mismanagement is probably less a marketing problem among consumers, since they're less likely than a corporate procurement department to commit long term to a different product because of the risk. But it does still interfere. And it's still a poor reflection on Apple, which could make more money even among only non-business consumers if it had more units ready to sell to eager buyers.

        Supply chai

        • by am 2k (217885)

          I'm not an expert in this area, but there's a fundamental problem for Apple here: It's obvious that they have a huge amount of preorders compared to the regular sales later. If they'd equip enough production lines to get an iPhone 4S to everyone who wants to preorder, they'd have a lot of overproduction later on. If they'd stockpile a lot of them, they'd delay the release date and they'd have high warehouse renting costs. Apple has to find a balance there, and that's very tricky to get right. They can't ple

          • by Doc Ruby (173196)

            Plenty of other consumer products vendors handle this kind of problem without a hitch. Sony comes to mind.

            It's not easy. But that's why they make the big bucks.

            • by am 2k (217885)

              Sony doesn't make that big of a deal out of product releases, thus they probably have less preorders relative to the regular sales.

        • by Antisyzygy (1495469) on Sunday October 09, 2011 @07:25PM (#37657408)
          The problem is that Apple makes their products seem scarce artificially. They have tried to seem like a small "for the consumer" company, they try to seem like they cater to their "elite" customers whims, they have a reputation for producing products for the wealthier, their advertising tends to portray Mac users as some kind of savvy elite class, and then even though they know their products routinely sell out, they don't even bother to try and get production up so it will accommodate demand. Im sorry, but Apple products are over-priced for what their actual costs are. Apple has the highest profit margin of any company because it doesn't sell its stuff cheaply, and it does so by over-limiting supply and over-inflating demand.
    • Well, you're pretty sure of yourself. So please let me know if you ever get a job in operations so I can short your company's stock.

      Sales projections for devices like iPhones tend to spike at the introduction, curve down, then level out. It would be insane to gear up for production at peak demand levels, because some or most of it would be idled as demand dwindles after the big launch. Companies address this by estimating average demand over a 6 or 12 month period, estimating initial demand, starting production early and stockpiling inventory, and then adjusting production volume based on actual demand.

      And I guess you're calling the 7% of for fortune 500 that don't have official iPhone programs the serious ones? The other 465 of them are stupid amateurs who know better?

    • by enkidu (13673)

      Uh, you're comparing Apple's totally fucked up product line-up, supply chain, and operations from the 1980's when they were hemorraging money like a stuck pig to the problems they're having meeting unprecedented demand right now? Are you kidding me? Apple's supply chain management and operations are why they have margins way above any other PC or tablet manufacturer. And despite those margins, other makers can't sell similar devices without taking a loss.

      Yes, Apple has had trouble keeping the pipeline fil

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