Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

Maybe Apple's Tim Cook knows what he's doing after all

September 23, 2013: 12:16 PM ET

His critics went quiet after Apple reported first-weekend sales of 9 million new iPhones.

Cook.

Cook.

FORTUNE -- When Apple (AAPL) ran out of stock Friday and had to turn away thousands of would be iPhone 5S customers, a reader who calls himself iDawg tweeted a question that was on a lot of Apple watchers' minds:

"How does CEO get a reputation as an operational genius by continually running out of stock."

Not as many people were asking that question Monday morning after Apple reported that it sold more than 9 million units of the iPhone 5S and 5C, 80% better than its iPhone 5 sales last year.

But we went ahead and put iDawg's question to Asymco's Horace Dediu anyway.

"It has nothing to do with operational genius," he wrote. "Every year they expand distribution and every year they fill the channel but initial demand grows faster than can be supplied.

"I will say one thing: Apple has a lot of information about demand which we don't. Having 400 million customers gives you a great deal of insight into markets. Certainly more than asking your friends."

Below: Dediu's chart of comparative launch performances.

Screen Shot 2013-09-23 at 12.35.54 PM

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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