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Summary:

If you were hoping to get a new iPhone 5s on Friday, you might want to consider getting in line early. Reports from both carriers and Apple stores say to expect fewer available phones than usual.

Apple iPhone 5S 3 colors
photo: Apple

The iPhone 5s will makes it way to store shelves on Friday, and this marks the first time an iPhone won’t be available for pre-order since the iPhone 3G. Rumors have already surfaced of “constrained” supplies. The fact that pre-sale orders in China disappeared within minutes isn’t helping to change that. Now, AllThingsD is reporting that sources at the carrier level have expressed concern about phone supplies. One even went so far as to say, “We will have grotesquely unavailable inventory.”

It’s definitely possible for Apple to have a more constrained inventory than in year’s past. After all, this is the first time the company is releasing two new phones at the same time (or even in the same year). And on top of that there’s the impending release of iOS 7 and probably a couple of updated new iPads a month away. So it wouldn’t be surprising if there are less iPhones to go around, at least at the outset.

9to5Mac, meanwhile, is reporting that 70-80 percent of the iPhones in stock at Apple stores on Friday are expected to be the iPhone 5c, and that the silver and gold models of the iPhone 5s will be particularly difficult to find at launch. Apple might even be prepping an update to its Apple Store iOS app to check if new iPhone are available at your local Apple store.

iPhone5s gold

This gold model of the iPhone 5s might be hard to come by when the phone is first released.

But “grotesquely unavailable” is in the eye of the beholder. After all, Apple might be choosing to sell just a small amount of phones through each carrier, saving the bulk for itself. And if a phone happens to be unavailable from the carrier, that’s just another reason for customers to go straight the source and buy it from the Apple store, where they might be tempted into some other purchases as well. That’s just shrewd business.

This is all worth keeping in mind if you are planning to get in line for a new iPhone 5s on Friday. You can take your chances at a carrier store, which could potentially have shorter lines but lesser stock, or an Apple store, which might have more phones and a lot more people looking to buy them. It’s a Catch-22, where immediate iPhone gratification may not be a possibility.

  1. I’m waking up at 3AM EST and ordering mine. No lines !

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  2. marketers have no soul

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  3. Unlike most idiots I can wait a month.

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    1. Wow you must be super human. Pat yourself on the back!

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  4. Sounds like they made a whole lot of 5Cs for China and they couldn’t close a key carrier deal.

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  5. It sounds like Apple manufactured demand to garner just this sort of publicity for a no-big-deal update.

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  6. There’s no way I’m waiting on line for a launch-day iPhone. It’s a losing proposition. I’m letting my iPhone 3G crawl to its death for another week or so and will order my 5s when the crowd and excitement dies down.

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  7. This is just more of the classic supply economics that Apple does so well. Business as usual and they are one of the few companies that still succeed with this model.

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  8. Quick. Line up before they are all gone and no more will be available ever again.

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  9. There was a line of about 8 people at 6 AM at our closest AT&T store on my way to work (Northern Indiana). They were going to open at 8 AM.
    I wasn’t in a hurry and could have waited for an ordered one but we went back there at about 10 AM to see if the one I wanted was still in stock (32 GB 5S in ‘space grey’) and we got the last one. Got signed in right away and had to wait maybe 15 minutes for someone to do the transaction.
    Store was busy including a local news crew but not packed.
    (Although there is an Apple store up the road that opened at 8 AM too that may have had more crowds.)

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