IPhone 4S demand remains strong at home and abroad

iPhone 4S

Apple’s iPhone 4S hit parade continues to roll on, according to notes from two investment analysis firms on Monday. In the U.S., the 4S continues to sell out daily in most Apple retail stores, while preorders for the device’s gradual international rollout also continue to put up impressive numbers. Still, Apple is doing a good job of getting as many phones into customer hands as possible.

Good record at home . . .

In the U.S., Deutsche Bank’s Chris Whitmore found that polling Apple retail stores revealed that more than 85 percent are running out of iPhone 4S inventory on a daily basis. Apple is making sure that customers who miss out one day are satisfied the next, however, thanks to its next-day pickup system run through the online Apple store. Reservations made online for next-day pickup currently account for most iPhone 4S sales, making it difficult for customers to simply walk in and buy, according to Whitmore.

The situation is a little more hit or miss at Apple’s U.S. partners, like AT&T, Sprint and Verizon. Whitmore’s stock checks to these outlets found that supply levels were less easy to predict on a daily basis, since shipments from Apple were said to be infrequent and stores were not notified of expected deliveries in advance. Apple often prioritizes its own retail operations when determining where stock is sent, especially for products in high demand.

Based on his checks, Whitmore found his forecast of 28 million iPhones sold during the holidays to be “increasingly conservative,” and that in fact, the ceiling for this quarter will be set entirely by the ability of Apple’s production partners to keep up with demand.

. . . and on the road

The iPhone 4S remains in demand on a global scale, too. Shipping expectations at most if not all international versions of the Apple online store remain at one to two weeks, the same waiting period since the right after iPhone 4S preorders began in October.

Buyers in international markets that are just now getting the iPhone 4S are also eager to get their hands on the device, as evidenced by the recent preorder sales blitz that took place on Friday in Hong Kong. Ticonderoga Securities analyst Brian White said in a note on Monday that the 4S sold out just ten minutes after preorder sales began in Hong Kong, which bodes well for the mainland China release of the device, which has yet to receive an official date.

Apple appears to be doing a good job of keeping iPhones going out to customers without falling into the kind of extended wait times that made prior product launches frustrating for many. The next-day reservation system is a terrific addition in terms of efficiently managing in-store customer demand, and online orders haven’t slipped beyond two weeks as of yet.

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