Is Apple Being Stingy With the iPhone 5?

The iPhone 5 appears to be a hard-to-get commodity. Third-party retailers seemed to be in short supply of the new smartphone over the weekend, with most of the inventory landing at Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) own stores, The Wall Street Journal reported.

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Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) was emailing customers who had pre-ordered the iPhone 5 to say it had not received enough units of the specific model they ordered and that the company was working hard on making the product available as soon as possible. Stores reportedly received between barely 10 and 40 new phones for the launch day on September 21, with not enough variety in terms of data size and carriers. “It could take as long as 28 days to find the iPhone you want,” Best Buy senior vice president Shawn Score reportedly added in the emails.

Other Apple retail partners also reported similar problems, with one RadioShack (NYSE:RSH) store in Chicago receiving a shipment of about 20 phones and a Target (NYSE:TGT) store near San Francisco getting just eight phones. One of Apple’s own stores, meanwhile, reported selling as many as 3,000 phones on Friday. While a Sprint (NYSE:S) spokeswoman said inventories of the phone at most of its retail stores were “seriously constrained or sold out,” representatives of rival carriers AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ) declined to comment.

Apple announced it sold more than two million iPhone 5 units on the first day of pre-orders and another five million over the first three days of the phone being available in stores around the country. Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu told The WSJ that about 60 percent of iPhones meant for sales in the U.S. will be allocated to retail partners, while the rest will go to Apple’s own stores.

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