Yesterday, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said that iPhone shortages — iPhones were sold out in all 20 Apple stores he called — suggested an 80% probability that a new phone was coming sooner than expected. (And a 20% chance that Apple was having supply/component problems.)
After thinking it through, we’ve decided that it makes no sense for this to be the prelude to a new iPhone. So the problem must be somewhere else.
First, because there’s no evidence that a 3G iPhone is coming sooner than the “May to June” period we’ve seen in previous reports. Every gadget with a radio on it needs to be approved by the FCC, and the FCC hasn’t approved any iPhones since the first one. (The 3G iPhone uses a different radio signal than the first one, so it should need a new approval.) The FCC process usually finishes up several weeks before a phone goes on sale. For instance, the original iPhone was approved last May 17 and didn’t go on sale until the end of June.
Second, we think it’s likely that Apple will continue selling the current iPhone at a lower price after the ‘3G’ iPhone launches: Say, $299 for the pokey version and $499 for the 3G. Apple has made a lot of hay tiering iPod and Mac models and pricing, so why would it deviate from this pattern?
And third, even if a 3G iPhone is coming next week AND Apple is planning to eliminate the current phone, running out of current phones is terrible customer service. That’s not something Steve Jobs is known for.
So what’s the problem? Probably something having to do with supply or components. Importantly, this is not necessarily a negative for Apple (except for the p-o’ed customers). With the dollar in the toilet and high demand for unlocked iPhones in places like China, we imagine a lot of ‘exporters’ are buying as many iPhones as they can to sell them in other countries. So perhaps Apple has the high-quality problem of not being able to keep up with demand.
Any other explanations? Let us know below or via our anonymous tip form.
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