updated 07:55 pm EST, Fri December 2, 2011
iPhone 4S demand still pushing limits
Some clues to the iPhone 4S' sustained demand six weeks out has emerged on Friday. Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger told TechCrunch that there had been two million new users just in November for the iOS-only app, which he credited to the new Apple smartphone. His remarks were borne out by the device already becoming Flickr's second most popular camera phone in five weeks.
Additionally, the iPhone 4S is facing tight supply not just at Apple, where US orders still take one to two weeks to arrive, but at individual carriers. Although their demand is softer, Verizon still quotes most models as delayed. A white 64GB model doesn't ship until December 9, while delays get progressively later, culminating in the 32GB white iPhone not shipping until December 23. Only the 16GB and 64GB models are readily available.
Sprint shows a week-long delay for 16GB models, but timely shipping for the two higher-capacity iPhones. AT&T shows the opposite, with a one- to two-week delay on 64GB versions. C Spire shows that all models are in stock.
Real shipments won't be known until Apple's quarterly resuls in January. However, talk of the iPhone drowning out Android at other carriers may be valid, since a casual check with Verizon at retail showed that it was unquestionably the most popular device at at least one store. The study isn't comprehensive, but it corroborates the carriers' own views that demand is very high.
Apple hasn't been facing the weeks long delays it has in the past, when the iPhone 4 and others saw shortages only grow longer before settling down. Having repeated but consistently long shortages, even as a smartphone reaches new countries and carriers, is usually an indicator that a company anticipated high demand but couldn't quite keep up.