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iPhone Demand Seen Outstripping Supply

At least one analyst thinks Apple (s aapl) may have sold fewer iPhones last quarter than current estimates suggest, but not because no one wants an iPhone 3GS, quite the opposite.


As the numbers from research firm Canalys indicate, there is no customer shortage for the iPhone 3GS. According to senior analyst Pete Cunningham, “Apple has revolutionized the smart phone sector, leapfrogging more experienced rivals.” In North America, that leapfrogging has put Apple ahead of everyone but RIM (s rimm), whose market share remained flat, and there’s more good news. According to Canalys, touchscreens are now the preferred interface for smartphones, accounting for 40 percent of all shipments, and Apple is the undisputed leader when it comes to multi-touch and the user interface. The only problem may be that Apple has been too successful.

While the consensus for iPhone sales in the third quarter is around seven million units sold, a pair of analysts are raising concerns. Via AppleInsider, Gene Munster from Piper Jaffray referenced Apple’s conference call from July, at which it was stated supplies of the iPhone 3GS were constrained. Munster is also concerned about supplies for the international market. Apple’s wireless partner in Italy has suggested the company could double sales from 20,000 units sold per month were supplies available. Nonetheless, Munster is still predicting iPhone sales in excess of 7 million units.

Via Apple 2.0, Oppenheimer analyst Yair Reiner is not so optimistic. His concern stems from comments made by Steve Jobs at the Apple music event last month in which it was “implied that ~3.5M phones had been sold with only 21 days left in the quarter.” That number is derived from Jobs remarking that 30 million iPhones had been sold since 2007, then subtracting the 26.5 million that have been reported in earnings statements. That’s a tenuous assumption, but Reiner still appears to be pulling back from his low-ball estimate of 6 million iPhones for the quarter.

It’s hard to imagine Apple keeping real iPhone shortages a secret. More likely, Steve Jobs was rounding down, and on Monday we’ll find out Apple has sold somewhere between seven and eight million iPhones, and probably closer to eight million. Even if Apple is working against iPhone supply constraints due to popularity, that’s the kind of problem beleaguered Microsoft (s msft) and Windows Mobile would love to have.

7 Responses to “iPhone Demand Seen Outstripping Supply”

  1. I really love beeing A Dane. It is a fairly small but well developed country with a very homogenius population and are thus used as a testebench for different high tech companies that whats to test different things before rolling it out to larger markets. Denmark are thus on the forfront on mobil technology and we have a very good 3g coverage do to the investments made by the mobile company 3. This means that me and My wife both have a iPhone 3g in my case and 3gs in my wife case and the have none of the poor coverage problems people in the us are complaining about. I am planing on passing my own 3g to my 8 year old girl at her 9 year birthsday in september just to get my hand on the next generation iPhone. Thats how satisfied I am with it.

  2. Gazoobee

    The shortages are really apparent in almost every country except the USA. There has also been ample reporting on the shortages which have been in effect since launch day of the 3Gs. All over the web people are talking about multiple month long waiting lists for the iPhone and still in this article it’s only “possibly true.”

  3. At least in Sweden, the shortages are apparent. I’m a developer and I’ve been unable to buy an iPhone 3Gs on the Telia network. Telia told me a week ago “best case, you’ll get the least popular configuration in 6-8 weeks” :-/
    (and I’ve been in line longer than that)

  4. iphonerulez

    How can this analyst Reiner say that he heard of this shortage rumor in September, yet he upgraded Apple on October 1 and now he’s changing his mind today. He should have just left his October 1 analysis unchanged from what it was originally. I definitely think this guy is full of crap or trying to manipulate Apple investors for his own benefit.