Blog Post

iPhone 4: Big Lines & Short Supply

Across the globe, iPhone 4 (s aapl) eyewitnesses are all seeing the same thing: lines around the block and few, if any, devices for those without reservations.

In Durham, North Carolina, record-breaking temperatures near 100 degrees could not keep the faithful from lining up outside the local Apple Store. The line for the iPhone 4 began yesterday evening, reaching around the block by early this morning and remaining more or less constant with new arrivals. By noon, Apple Store employees were passing out umbrellas. There were no white umbrellas available either, and very few black iPhones for those without reservations.

Durham was not an anomaly.

As the earth turned, so did iPhone 4 sales, starting with Japan, followed by Germany, France, the UK, and then east to west in the U.S. In every country, in every city, the story was the same: demand outstripped supply. The dearth of white iPhones appears to have no measurable effect on sales.

Calls to stores, assuming you can get someone to pick up, also tell a similar story. Supplies of the iPhone 4 are dwindling, many stores expect to be sold out by the end of the day. While more iPhones are expected, no one knows when they will arrive. Expect an iPhone 4 availability page to appear on Apple’s website soon.

As for the iPhone 4 itself, satisfaction will likely be high, but there are reports of some issues. MacRumors was one of the first to report of “yellow blotching” on some iPhone 4 displays. There are conflicting reports as to whether this is a “residue from manufacturing” that will clear up in a few days, or a flaw that requires replacement. There are also scattered reports of reception degradation when holding the bottom left of the iPhone 4, though the supposed issue cannot be reliably duplicated.

These flaws, if they exist, will likely only matter to those who have successfully ordered an iPhone 4 or have one on reserve. For everyone else by far the biggest problem with the iPhone 4 is availability. It will be days, if not weeks, before Apple establishes equilibrium between supply and demand.

5 Responses to “iPhone 4: Big Lines & Short Supply”

  1. why is it that things like reception failure ” can’t be reliably duplicated”. I suggest that you go watch the videos on Gizmodo and access Apples comments.

    We are being told what we can do or can’t do with our bought and paid for property. Now we’re going told how we can hold it.

    What happened to IT JUST WORKS ?

  2. Want to put your old iPhone to use doing exciting new things? How about sending it to Kenya in two weeks to record oral history interviews in endangered tribal dialects? My name is Kamilah Welch and I am the public relations intern for Smallbean(, a Boston-based non-profit. Smallbean’s initiatives teach technology skills and document community life around the world through the use of refurbished electronics and solar power.

    With yesterday’s debut of the iPhone 4, we are seeking old iPhones for use as digital voice recorders for our oral history-based Citizen Archivist Project. Any information or references of people whom we could contact on this prospect would be very much appreciated. Thanks!

    Kamilah (

  3. I am yet to see an iphone 4 without the reception issue. It is a really bizarre defect. Hold your hand in the wrong spot and you slowly go from 5 bars to 0, release your hand then it slowly goes from 0 bars to 5. All of my friends and colleagues who got an iphone 4 claimed they could not produce the result on their phone, but once I tried it, it was easy to produce and easily reproducible. Was funny to see their face when they saw it happen.

  4. Arthur

    I stood in line from 4:15am to 1:24pm in White Plains NY to get mine. The line was already 50 stron by 4am which is minor compared to more popular stores. I never saw the end of the non-reserve line but I guessed that there were at least 3,000 people there altogether. I got in and out as soon as I could. By the end of the day as some people realized their probability was shrinking, there were short tempers and almost a fight in front of me. Neither Apple nor the mall seem to have any desire to manage the crowd and prefer the publicity of a huge critical mass rather than planned crowd control. The entrance doors opened a half hour earlier than expected causing a massive stampede of line cutters. It was a mess but lucky no one was hurt.

    • Crowd control is the duty of the landlord. I worked in retail facilities management. I can tell you in most cases our lease states that anything outside our door is out of our control. And malls are even worse. But ultimately intelligent human beings should be able to form a line an behave peacefully. We should not need a hall monitor to make sure we don’t get out of line.