The phone call came at a time that seemed impossibly early, just after 3:00AM. “Mrphl,” I said. My brain’s language center was still booting up. Then I identified myself clearly, and the cheery voice on the other end reminded me that it was a T-Mobile representative, calling to make sure I got my pre-order for the new iPhone X in on time.
Unlike apparently everyone else, T-Mobile had organized the iPhone X pre-order process to the point where people who had told a sales representative that they were interested in ordering one, were called as soon after midnight, Pacific time, as possible.
I had called the sales line a couple of weeks earlier, and the same representative had told me that she would call me herself to make sure my order went through. And she did.
We went through the process that she’d obviously rehearsed. I confirmed that I wanted a Space Gray model with 256 GB. I agreed that my iPhone 7 was indeed operational (I was talking on it, after all) and that there was no damage.
By then it became clear that despite all of T-Mobile’s preparation and practice, not everything was going according to plan. T-Mobile’s point of sales computer started slowing down because of the massive number of simultaneous purchase transactions going on across the internet. The representative started apologizing as the delays in completing my order lengthened.”
By the time we reached the point where I had to use DocuSign to agree to the sale, the website had stopped responding and instead of seeing the document, I was dropped into a page to start the order over again.
The representative was patient, though. I made it through the process, and my order went through. It looks like I’ll get a phone on Nov. 3, just like Tim Cook had promised when he introduced it in September.
But apparently, I was luckier than a lot of other people who tried ordering through their carriers or through the Apple Store app and they weren’t able to buy an iPhone X until the delivery window had shifted a month into the future. If you sign on to pre-order an iPhone X at the Apple website now you will be told that there’s a wait of five to six weeks. The iPhone X sold out almost immediately.
For some people who want an iPhone X there’s a chance you can successfully order one on Nov. 3 if you are prepared to stand in line and hope for the best. But Apple already expects that demand will far exceeds supply and it’s advising people to show up early. Likewise there will apparently be some supplies at the carriers and some authorized resellers. But you can bet that those supplies will be severely limited.
For most people, the wait for a new iPhone X could easily stretch into 2018 even if they ordered one on Oct. 27.
Apple may have been surprised by the response to the iPhone X. While the company reportedly built around three million iPhones for this release, it seemed clear that the level of demand exceeded the company’s expectations.
“We are thrilled to be taking orders for iPhone X, the future of the smartphone. We can see from the initial response, customer demand is off the charts,” an Apple spokesperson told eWEEK in a prepared email.
“We’re working hard to get this revolutionary new product into the hands of every customer who wants one, as quickly as possible. We will keep accepting orders online,” the Apple email stated.
Part of the reason for the obvious shortage is clearly due to Apple’s decision to open pre-orders to many countries around the world at the same time, including some the most populous ones with lots of eager mobile phone users. Another reason for the shortage is that Apple has been having production problems with some components, notably those required for facial recognition and that slowed production down.
And of course the demand is up because this is the first significant redesign of the iPhone in years. This reminiscent of the September 2014 release of the iPhone 6 with its larger screen, which generated very high demand. The difference between then and now is that there are far more people trying to order an iPhone and the supply is no larger and may be slightly smaller than was the case with the iPhone 6.
While the production problems are certainly a concern for the company, this high level of demand for the iPhone X is good news for Apple, especially considering the lukewarm reception that the iPhone 8 has received so far.
That iPhone suffered under the impending introduction of the iPhone X coming out a month just a month later. Furthermore, aren’t that many differences between the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 7 that preceded it. In a normal year, the iPhone 8 would have been called the 7S to reflect the modest feature upgrades.
However, the hot sales of the iPhone X have shown that Apple can sell a phone for over $1,000 and not have the price put a damper on demand. This means that Apple won’t be shy about setting a high price in the future for an iPhone with significant new features.
However, Apple still needs to remember that not every potential customer can afford a device that costs that much. The company still needs to find a pricing plan that gives the rest of the potential customer base a chance to buy a phone with the features of an iPhone X.