Rabu, 23 Juli 2008

Last weeks iPhone 3G launch appears to have been a success, with the device sold out in virtually all U.S. locations. Calls to local AT&T stores in the metropolitan Chicago area, for example, turned up no phones, and long wait lists. Reasons for the shortage range from Apple underestimating demand to a shortage of components from overseas suppliers.

An Apple fan site cited an AT&T memo to store managers noting that iPhone 3Gs will not be available for 10 to 14 days, while other reports indicated the iPhone 3G was sold out in all Apple stores with no new inventory expected for at least two weeks.

Some analysts questioned whether the shortages were real or artificially created to build buzz and further increase demand. But with shortages lasting weeks, carriers with competing products, such as the RIM Blackberry, the Samsung Instinct, and the LG Voyager, will likely step up marketing efforts.

More than one million iPhone 3Gs were sold during the initial weekend. Some stores reported a steady stream of sales as long as inventory held out. The device is in high demand as it provides features that the original lacked -- namely, GPS and high-speed 3G. The 3G capabilities, in particular, are pushing units out the door and may explain the shortages.


3G is a nearly ubiquitous phone transmission medium, built for international use. Some analysts believe many of the iPhone 3Gs sold in the U.S. are winging their way across the globe to countries such as China and Russia where the iPhone is not yet scheduled to be sold. Reports of Russian and Chinese sales indicate the devices are entering these countries somehow.

In addition to these black markets, the iPhone 3G is sold in 20 countries other than the U.S., further putting pressure on inventories. Apple will launch the iPhone 3G in an additional 20 countries on Aug. 22, with another 30 countries scheduled by years end.

As this story was written, there were 13,782 iPhones available on eBay. The highest bid was $1,111, and if shortages continue, eBay activity should remain high. Retail pricing is of course significantly lower: The 8GB iPhone 3G retails for $199 and the 16GB model for $299.

In its third-quarter financial analyst call on Monday, Apple revealed that its fiscal third-quarter profit rose 31 percent to just more than $1 billion. It estimated that more than one million iPhone 3Gs were sold, and the company was confident it would reach its target of 10 million units before year-end.

Other highlights of the analyst call revealed that Apple has sold more than 25 million applications from its App Store and Macintosh sales continue to rise, especially in Europe.


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