Just like last year, I set my alarm Friday morning for 3 a.m. Eastern (midnight Pacific), woke my Mac and went to the Apple Store, where the "We'll be back" sign was flashing in 10 different languages.
This went on for nearly 15 minutes -- just like last year, when orders for the iPhone 5 were so heavy Apple's (AAPL) servers couldn't keep up.
But unlike last year, when the only way I could make a purchase was through the iPhone Apple Store, I eventually connected on my Mac and pre-ordered the white iPhone 5C my wife had selected. Payment was taken and delivery set for Sept. 20, thank you very much.
Last year Apple ran through its supplies of the iPhone 5 in less than an hour -- which Wall Street took as a sign of enormous pent-up demand. When the stock market opened at 9:30 a.m., Apple's shares rocketed to a new record high of $696.98, adding $40.98 billion to the company's market cap in the space of two days.
Three days later, Apple announced that it had sold a record 2 million iPhones in 24 hours, double the record set one year earlier by the iPhone 4S.
This year, by contrast, there were still plenty of iPhone 5Cs in stock an hour later. Also four hours later. And as I write this, at 9:00 a.m. Eastern, you can still pre-order a 16GB or 32GB iPhone 5C in any of five colors and on any of four U.S. carriers' networks and be guaranteed delivery by Friday 9/20.
Does that mean that demand was weak or that supplies were strong? It's a materially important question, and only Apple knows for sure.
We do know, however, that the iPhone 5 was a new "form factor," in the jargon of the trade, and according to Foxconn was particularly hard to assemble.
The iPhone 5C, because it's the same size as the iPhone 5 and shares many of the same internals, should be easier for Apple to manufacturer in quantities sufficient to meet demand. Besides, the early adopter types are more likely to spring for the iPhone 5S, which won't go on sale until next week.
Wall Street could argue the situation round or flat. Apple shares opened Friday morning down $2.79 (0.59%) and quickly headed further south.
UPDATE: 9to5Mac's Jordan Kahn reported at 10:34 a.m. Eastern that the unlocked version of the 16GB yellow iPhone 5C was the first to sell out. Deliveries now promised for 9/25. All other models were still in stock.
It's a potent mix of new customers and old, says a Morgan Stanley analyst
One of the unanswered questions about Apple's (AAPL) latest hit product is how many of the 600,000 iPhone 4s that were pre-sold on Tuesday were ordered by iPhone owners upgrading from their older models and how many by new customers who'd never owned an iPhone before.
Charles Golvin, a wireless analyst at Forrester Research, is a skeptic. "I MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Jun 17, 2010 6:09 AM ET
Meanwhile, it apologizes to frustrated iPhone customers and invites them to try again
Someone finally apologized for the mess Apple and its carrier partners made of the iPhone 4 pre-order process Tuesday.
In statement released Wednesday, Apple (AAPL) announced that the number of pre-orders it took -- more than 600,000 -- was a one-day record. It was also more than it or its partners were prepared to handle, and for that it MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Jun 16, 2010 12:19 PM ET
The rate slows to 5,000 per day as Apple offers school discounts and begins accepting apps
It's been a busy week for the iPad.
It started off with a bang, as Apple (AAPL) racked up pre-orders at the rate of more than 25,000 units per hour early Friday March 12, according to the team tracking order numbers at Investor Village's AAPL Sanity board.
By Sunday, the initial frenzy had cooled. The pre-order rate MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Mar 20, 2010 3:33 PM ET
|I work 4 jobs and I'm still struggling|
|"The Hobbit" dispute sparks lawsuit|
|Will the market actually cheer Fed tapering?|
|Don't fight it. Bitcoin has a bright future|
|Premarkets: Stocks' disappointing December continues|