The iPhone 4S is scheduled to hit retail stores on October 14. Already, extremely high demand for the new iPhone has caused shipping delays for preorder units from Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint.
According to a report from Bloomberg BusinessWeek, "Apple Inc.’s latest iPhone has sold out for pre-order at AT&T Inc., Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel Corp." However, a spokesperson for Verizon told the Huffington Post that customers can still buy phones from the carrier's website--you'll just have to wait a while for your order to ship. The Verizon Wireless website informs customers that preordered devices will ship by October 27, rather than on October 14, when the phone launches.
A slightly lengthier shipping estimate was given by AT&T. A representative for the company told The Hufffington Post that customers looking to place preorders should to expect delays between 21 and 28 days before the device ships.
Unlike the other carriers, Sprint, which is making its iPhone debut with the 4S, is not taking backorders for the 4S. A representative for the carrier told the Huffington Post via email that "the 16GB iPhone 4S in white and black is sold out for pre-order," although it will be available in stores on October 14. As of this writing, Sprint still has 32GB and 64GB iPhone 4S's available for preorder on Sprint's website.
Apple's own shipping estimates seem to run counter to estimates provided by wireless carriers. Apple's website estimates that preorders will ship from AT&T, Verizon and Sprint in "1-2 weeks," significantly shorter than 21-28 day wait reported by AT&T.
When preorders opened on October 7, Apple reportedly sold more than 1 million 4S’s in 24 hours, far surpassing the previous record of 600,000 iPhone 4's sold in the same time period.
DigiTimes reports that, based on an article in Chinese-language newspaper, Apple has already ordered manufacturing partner Pegatron Technology to add another 5 million phones to the 10 million they had already ordered.
Overwhelmed carriers and backed-up orders are nothing new for Apple devices. When the iPhone 4 launched in 2010, AT&T had to stop taking preorders after one day so they could focus on fulfilling the orders that had been received in the first 24 hours. At the time, the iPhone was exclusive to AT&T. This is the first iPhone launch where customers can get the phone from multiple carriers.When the iPad 2 was released in March, it sold out within days and customers had to wait 4-5 weeks to get their iPad fix. The second generation of Apple's tablet reportedly sold 1 million units in its opening weekend.