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Apple bungles iPhone 6 pre-orders

Gregg Keizer | Sept. 15, 2014

"In our view, the weakness in our Apple Barometer, Hon Hai Precision, and other Apple suppliers during the month of July was an indication that the supply chain began ramping production for this iPhone launch later than in the past," said Brian White, a financial analyst with Cantor Fitzgerald, in a Friday note to client. "[This] will result in supply constraints for the iPhone 6 and severe supply constraints for the iPhone 6 Plus."

White also pointed out the short supplies at U.S. carriers. As of 11 a.m. ET (8 a.m. PT), AT&T showed a 7-14 business day delay in shipping new orders, while the carrier stretched the iPhone 6 Plus ship date to 32-45 business days, up to nine weeks, or as late as mid-November.

Analysts have debated which of the two models will ultimately sell more units. Most have predicted that the less-expensive iPhone 6 will dominate. But a few have started to hedge their bets, believing that there is even more pent-up — especially at the beginning of the sales cycle — for the iPhone 6 Plus and its larger screen on the part of current iPhone owners and those who went Android because of the bigger displays offered by Samsung.

Apple did not include the People's Republic of China (PRC) in the first wave of iPhone 6 markets. While state-run media speculated that the omission of the PRC was due to everything from sluggish regulatory approval to a desire by Apple to punish domestic carriers for leaking details, Apple may have simply decided to postpone the introduction because of inadequate supplies.

Larger-screen smartphones are particularly popular in Asia in general, and in the PRC in particular, and Apple may not have wanted to start selling the iPhone 6 Plus in the latter until it had a larger inventory.

That was White's take. "I think it was supply issues," he said in an interview. "The technical reason is that they haven't gotten approval [from the Ministry for Industry and Information Technology (MIIT)], but if Apple had wanted to sell in China, it would have gotten it done. The iPhone 6 Plus could be off the charts in China, but why put another wrench in sales if they didn't have to?"

White said he expects Apple to begin selling the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in the PRC in a month or so.

Apple will begin sales of the new iPhones in its retail stores on Friday, Sept. 19, starting at 8 a.m. local time.


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