What Does the iPhone 5’s Weekend Sell-Out Mean for Apple?

Those who have yet to pre-order their new iPhones may have a bit of a wait, as Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) website now shows delivery times of 2-3 weeks. The iPhone 5, announced last Wednesday and available for pre-order as of midnight on September 14, was meant to ship on September 21, the same date as the in-store launch.

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Verizon (NYSE:VZ), Sprint (NYSE:S), and AT&T (NYSE:T), the three major iPhone carriers in the U.S., are also showing delivery times of 2-3 weeks on their websites. The phone will still launch in stores on Friday, but supplies tend to go quickly, with buyers often lining up around the block the night before for a chance to be one of the first to receive their new devices.

Apple was initially thought to have somehow avoided supply constraints that led to such delays in the past, as the company’s schedule for launching the phone worldwide is quite aggressive. If Apple was better prepared for heightened demand this time around — it similarly sold out of the iPhone 4S rather quickly in October, despite the phone being largely touted as a disappointment — then sold-out supplies may indicate significantly higher initial sales than even the most optimistic of analysts had projected.

The general analyst consensus has been for 10-12 million shipments by the end of September, which would already put the iPhone 5 on track to set records and become the best-selling iPhone ever. The phone also launches with the much-awaited iOS 6, which better integrates Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) sharing into apps, and does away with Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) maps in favor of a revolutionary new map app designed by Apple in-house. The new mobile OS becomes available on September 19 for owners of existing devices, who will be able to upgrade then.

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