Its launch has made it the most successful smartphone of all time, but many US customers waiting to get their hands on the iPhone 4S could be in for a long wait. The Wall Street Journal reports that even a month after the Apple device went on the market, the three biggest wireless carriers are finding it hard to keep supply up with demand.
In America, the largest carriers selling the iPhone 4S are Verizon, AT&T and Sprint Nextel. On each of the carriers’ websites, they suggest would be iPhone 4S buyers could have substantial waits before they can have the handset. Verizon’s website says up to three weeks, AT &T says 21 days while Sprint estimates around 14 days.
The reasons for the delay have been the source of much speculation. Some suggest it could be Apple’s manufacturers who have not made enough devices. Others suggest the demand has simply been so high, Apple, and the carriers, have been taken by surprise. AT&T has reported record breaking sales for the device. In its first three days in the shops, the iPhone 4S reached sales figures of 4 million, setting a new record for smartphones. For many of the carriers, worldwide and not just in the US, a successful iPhone 4S campaign is key after slower iPhone sales in the rest of the year, largely due to potential buyers hanging on for the third quarter to buy a new Apple device, at that point rumored to be an iPhone 5.
The impact of a new Apple device coming on the market for retail sales is extensive. Figures in the US show that in October, the month the iPhone 4S launched, retail sales rose 0.5%. There was a 3.7% in electronic sales over the same period. Some predictions have suggested the iPhone 4S could reach up to 27 million sales by the end of 2011, selling the same number of Samsung Galaxy SII devices but in just a third of the time. The predictions show the device has not just been popular in its initial launch, but that enthusiasm and sales continue to build. Carriers would be looking to Apple for more iPhone 4S models as the potential for profits is substantial.
Yet if supply fails to reach demand it could prove a damp squib. AT&T say they are working to get the device to customers within 10 days. The Apple Chief executive, Tim Cook, says the company is working as fast as they can to get the device into the hands of customers as quickly as possible.
Smaller carriers in the US, however, do not appear to have the same problem. For example in the southeast US, the regional carrier C Spire Wireless is reporting no shipping delays for the device.
As the holiday period, and the all-important Black Friday in the US retail market approaches, wireless carriers will hope that they manage to get their iPhone 4S contracts out to customers much more quickly, if they are to ride the wave of popularity for the latest Apple device.