updated 07:43 pm EDT, Thu September 19, 2013
Despite high pricing, online orders selling out rapidly
Though the prices on the contract-free iPhone 5c and 5s will appear eye-poppingly high to Americans, the just-opened sales of the new iPhones at retail in the Far East are generating long lines for very limited stock -- a fact reflected at Apple's online stores, where the iPhone 5s in any configuration requires at least seven business days before delivery in most regions now.
The lower-cost iPhone 5c is having less trouble staying in stock, but this is likely due to Apple's ability to produce more units. The iPhone 5c lacks the fingerprint-sensor Touch ID home button of the iPhone 5s, a part that has been rumored to be limiting the company's ability to produce the 5s on a mass scale. However, even the iPhone 5c is seeing ordering online delays of one to three business days at Apple online stores around the world, an indication that sales are strong. Retail availability of the 5c is said to be good in Australia and New Zealand, where sales have already commenced.
While Apple has not commented on specific numbers for the new devices' APAC debut, a company spokesperson for Vodaphone told the Sydney Morning Herald that preorders were going "well, as expected." Leading US analysts believe Apple may sell up to six million handsets worldwide during its first weekend.
Reports from Australia indicate that the 5s is extremely constrained in all but the "Space Gray" color option, and scattered reports of sellouts of preorder stock of some models of the iPhone 5c have also been seen. An Electronista editor on the scene in Penrith, Australia for the worldwide debut was told the store had "quickly" sold out of its gold iPhone stock, though employees declined to say exactly how many the store had had available. Customers still in line after the opening were largely disappointed by the news, and a quick survey of a handful of those waiting indicated that many would have purchased or at least considered gold color iPhone 5s if it had been available.
China and Hong Kong have both reported a complete sellout of all 5s reservation stock as well. Reader reports from Germany and the UK indicate that Apple's online sales there debuted with 7-10 day waits for the iPhone 5s and 1-3 day waits for the iPhone 5c. The phones will debut in most time zones beginning at 8AM Friday morning local time.