Apple Supply Can't Meet iPhone Demand -- Again

Apparently Apple didn't anticipate that it would sell seven times as many iPhones last quarter as the same period last year, because the company is dealing with supply woes.

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In one of several revelations from Apple's conference call with analysts yesterday, Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook said demand for the coveted smartphone "has been staggering in almost every country we've shipped in."

That sounds more like gloating than an admission of guilt, but Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer struck a more somber tone, saying supplies are "currently constrained in virtually every country we're shipping in . . . and we're working very hard to fulfill that demand."

They'd better. Apple plans to introduce the iPhone to 20 more countries on August 22, offering the smartphone to over 40 countries total. Later this year, Apple wants to boost that number to over 70 countries. Cook said a recent increase in production will keep those rollouts on schedule.

At least in the United States, Apple handled demand for the iPhone 3GS better than it did last year with the iPhone 3G. Supplies for the 3G dried up days after release, with entire states running short on supply. The problem only got worse over time.

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But look at Apple's iPhone availability tool for the status now in, say, California, and you'll see far more green dots than red, indicating that you'll have an easy time strolling into an Apple Store and getting the iPhone model you want. Launch day problems were few and far between.

In the past, iPhone supply shortages have also signaled that Apple is readying a new device, as was the case with the iPhone 3G. It's tempting to draw a connection to whatever Apple and Verizon are allegedly working on, but let's not be too hasty. These supply shortages are likely post-launch troubles.

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