updated 02:44 am EDT, Sat September 21, 2013
While Apple increases orders, crunch on new color could last for weeks
The "gold rush" was a series of events generally considered to have lasted for much of the second half of the 19th century -- until Friday, when Apple officially sold completely out of the gold iPhone 5s model around 10AM ET. Within hours, many of the lucky few that secured a gold iPhone 5s were listing them on eBay and other auction sites. Asking prices have been seen in excess of $2,500, and active interest and bids have appeared as high as $3,850 (for a group of three gold 64GB models). There are currently over 2,000 iPhone 5s eBay auctions in progress.
Apple has since admitted that it underestimated demand for the gold model -- though most pundits have much more egg on their faces than the company -- and is said to be asking manufacturing partners to increase output of the gold model by more than 30 percent to help meet demand. Indeed, all configurations of the gold iPhone 5s are now listed on Apple's sites worldwide as shipping on unspecified dates in "October."
All models of the iPhone 5s are constrained, and this is said to be due to low yields of the Touch ID fingerprint sensor that is a key selling point of the more advanced model. Gold in particular was warned to be in very short supply from before its retail debut, with many stores and carriers yet to receive any stock of that model at all, and most stores saying they had 10 or fewer units of any configuration for sale.
The highest actual bid currently seen for a single gold iPhone 5s at this writing is $1,600 for an unlocked AT&T 64GB model which will end on Saturday. The lower-capacity versions are thus far attracting somewhat lower bids, around $1,160 for an unlocked 32GB version and $800-1,000 for the 16GB version.
Ebay also has numerous auctions for the White/Silver and "Space Gray" models in various capacities and equally eye-popping prices, despite the fact that while those colors are also scarce they are far more available by comparison. The supply of gold iPhone 5s units is coming mostly from preorders which have arrived, along with a number where the seller boasts that they stood in long lines in Australia or other locales to be among the first to grab the limited supply.