John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

iPhone 4: Stock-Outs at Apple Stores, New Orders Now Shipping in Three Weeks

Apple is selling the iPhone 4 as fast as it can make it–actually faster. With demand for the device off the charts after first-weekend sales, the company’s online storefront is now showing a ship time of three weeks for new orders. And Deutsche Bank analyst Chris Whitmore says that his survey of brick-and-mortar stores shows frequent stock-outs. “Demand is outstripping supply in multiple regions despite frequent replenishment,” he wrote in a research note issued this morning.

According to Whitmore’s survey of 100 iPhone 4 retail outlets (Apple, AT&T, Best Buy, O2, Orange and Car-Phone stores in the U.S. and U.K.), 60 percent of Apple Stores were sold out by Thursday evening, as were 100 percent of retail-partner stores. Supplies were replenished overnight, but by end-of-day Friday, quite a few stores were reporting stock-outs. And that number only grew on Saturday.

“Our checks carried out on Saturday revealed that Apple retail stores which were stocked-out on Thursday/Friday were unable to replenish stocks with ~95 percent of stores contacted experiencing stock-out situations. Further, most Apple representatives were not certain about the iPhone 4 stock replenishments and comments such as ‘We’re out of stock’, ‘Don’t know when we will have them in store’, ‘We sold out just minutes ago’, ‘No, we don’t know when we will be getting the phone’ and ‘Your best bet is the online store’ were cited frequently,” Whitmore reported.

“In addition,” according to the analyst, “retail stores which had iPhones in-stock cited long lines (2 to 3 hours) outside the stores. Comments such as ‘We have very limited numbers, we should be sold out in a couple of hours’ and ‘Please give us a call just before you leave home to make sure the iPhones are in stock’ suggested waning inventory levels.”

Whitmore figures Apple (AAPL) sold more than one million iPhone 4s over the weekend, but notes that shipments could have been dramatically higher if there was more supply.

“While the strong start is encouraging, we believe the long-term opportunity for growth of the iPhone is even more significant as near-term shipments are being gated by supply constraints,” Whitmore wrote. “We estimate Apple to sell 44 million iPhones in CY10 (8.5 million in the June quarter) and 55 million in CY11.” (See chart below; click to enlarge.)

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