Is the iPhone 4S so popular they’re running out?

iPhone 4S
iPhone 4S


The iPhone 4S has become the fastest selling smartphone of all time. In the first two days that it went on sale in mid-October, over 4,000,000 handsets were sold, either online or over the counter. Projected sales up to the end of December 2011 suggest the device will be sold 26 million times, the same amount as the Samsung Galaxy SII sold but in a third of the time. Apple has yet to make an official announcement on how many iPhone 4S contracts have been sold since it was made available in more countries including Australia and Hong Kong.

However the widespread popularity of the iPhone 4S has led some retailers to worry whether they might run out, a particular concern as Christmas approaches and other smartphone devices like the Galaxy Nexus and the Nokia Lumia come onto the market and threaten to rival the iPhone 4S.

iPhone 4S
iPhone 4S


One US retailer called Best Buy has become the latest to sell out of the iPhone 4S, making some analysts wonder whether demand is outstripping supply. When best Buy outlets were contacted, many informed customers of shortages via email. The majority of devices still in stock were in those areas with smaller populations, where they might not have been as much demand. The iPhone 4S left in stock at many of the outlets tended to be the 32GB which may have a higher capacity, but comes with a higher price tag.

Searches on the best Buy website using zip codes in major cities like New York, LA, San Francisco, Boston and Chicago, say no iPhone 4S is available within a 50 mile radius.

Many within the industry are viewing this as a “litmus test” over availability of the iPhone 4S. Best Buy, which sells the iPhone 4S over the three US carriers on which is it available, is usually one of the last retailers of Apple products after its own stores to the outlets of its carriers. If Best Buy’s stocks dwindle, it may raise concerns over the ability of Apple to meet demand and send out replacement stock.

Apple had organised sales of the iPhone 4S in a different way from previous handsets. The device had to be reserved at retail stores to help them manage demand and cut down on long lines. While that worked well at the initial launch period, demand has not slowed as the manufacturer may have expected, meaning supply has faltered. The device has been so popular in the US that one of its carriers, Sprint, reported its best sales day in its history thanks to the Apple smartphone.

By the end of 2011 the iPhone 4S will be available in 70 countries. It could be that stock in the original launch countries is limited until roll out of the device globally has been completed, although Apple has not made any official comment.

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