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Apple says its retail stores now require reservation for iPhone 4S buyers

post #1 of 15
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Apple said Monday that customers looking to purchase a new iPhone 4S from its US or Canadian based retail outlets will first be asked to make a reservation online, suggesting that record-setting sales of the deviceÂ* coupled with an upcoming international expansion are straining availability.Â*

Apple's "how-to-buy" iPhone webpage now advises that customers can check back online after 9 p.m. where they can attempt to make a reservation for pick up the following day. Customers can check stock availability at each store before they make a reservation, and must select which carrier, color, and capacity they require.

iPhone 4S is available in store by reservation only. Reserve yours after 9:00 p.m. tonight for pickup tomorrow. When you come in, youÂll choose a carrier and plan, and weÂll get your iPhone up and running before you leave the store.

Apple is instituting the restrictions in other countries as well, noting that only on-contract phones are available to walk-in customers, while both on-contract and SIM-free models can be purchased by reserving the night before.Â*

UK iPhone 4S reservation policy | source: Apple Store UK

Apple's in-store reservation requirement is nothing new and underwent significant re-engineering alongside the release of the second-gen iPad. As AppleInsider exclusively reported, the back-of-the-house process actually sees Apple retail stores work a day behind its inventory:

A person familiar with Apple's retail operations informed AppleInsider this week that the new shipment of iPad 2 stock sold by some stores on Tuesday was actually delivered on Monday. Apple is said to have elected to hold the inventory for a next-day sale to grant its inventory control specialists the time to "calmly and accurately" process new shipments.

It was suggested that the change could be a "lesson learned" following the launch of major in-demand products in 2010: the iPhone 4 and first-generation iPad. For those launches, Apple's reservation system was said to have been plagued by a myriad of problems, including technical glitches that caused reservations to disappear, and resellers attempting to "game" the system.

Apple's previous strategy was to get products from the pallet to the shelf as fast as possible. But that approach was said to have caused "utter havoc" for Apple's retail employees, and led to inventory inaccuracies.Â*

Under the revised strategy, Apple retail stores know exactly how many units it has to offer up for reservations the following day, allowing it automatically accept a specific number of reservations that it can guarantee to customers.

In years past, any excess iPhones or iPhone reservations that go unclaimed by the end of the day are made available for sale to walk-in customers.

Crowd awaiting iPhone 4S on launch day | source: AT&T flickr

The iPhone 4S is currently available in the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the U.K., with availability coming to 22 more countries by Oct. 28, and more than 70 countries by the end of the year.
post #2 of 15
Online orders now seem to have a 2 week lead time, so this is consistent with demand simply exceeding supply.
post #3 of 15
What about us att subscribers! Get to it!
post #4 of 15
Yep. More evidence that the 4S is a flop and no one would want such a 'meh' upgrade.

Oh, wait......
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
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"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
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post #5 of 15
According to my sources it isn't so much about a lack of supply but rather the crowds. During the iPad 2 launch apparently almost all the stores got complaints from the police and/or malls for the lines of folks waiting to see if more stock came in. Plus complaints by folks about the crowded noisy stores

Going reservation only allows the store managers to set a limit on how many iPhone customers are coming in, with any walkins being turned away? And at the same time they don't have folks lining up day after day and getting pissed off about the wait
post #6 of 15
One hour after the pre-orders began, I finally was able to place my order only for it to be cancelled at the end because it could only ship to my CC billing address (which is a PO box and they won't ship to a PO box). I decided to wait until they became available in stores Friday. Fortunately (this time), I live in a smallish town and was able to walk in to a local AT&T store and walk out with a 4S about 10 minutes later.
post #7 of 15
I bet there are plenty in Hong Kong this morning

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TechnoMinds

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post #8 of 15
If the Altamonte store activity in Florida is any indication of whats going on around the country.... its almost unbelievable the number of sales per minute going on this afternoon when I stopped in for a Genius appointment, when it was determined I needed a new power supply.

A beehive of activity, transactions being consumated all through the store, every piece of hardware was in use and customers waiting their turn to be sold even more.....

What a testament to Job's legacy and the digital revolution that is unfolding right before our eyes. Just watching people testing Siri and the giggles and laughs as new purchasers tried it for the first time, just tells you how big it is going to be, especially as it grows in sophistication and accuracy.

Tomorrows earnings will be astounding and it looks like the 1st Quarter is off to a big start.
post #9 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

Yep. More evidence that the 4S is a flop and no one would want such a 'meh' upgrade.

Oh, wait......

I have a huge problem with this "meh' upgrade. Despite having only a dual core processor, a wimpy little Retina display and only 512 mb of ram I have wasted way to much time on my new 4s playing Infinity Blade. If I had known such a game could be so immersive with such detailed graphics and fluid play on a phone I would have never upgraded from my 3gs. Curse you Apple!
Crying? No, I am not crying. I am sweating through my eyes.
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Crying? No, I am not crying. I am sweating through my eyes.
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post #10 of 15
Did they run out of the "S" sticker??
post #11 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Under the revised strategy, Apple retail stores know exactly how many units it has to offer up for reservations the following day, allowing it automatically accept a specific number of reservations that it can guarantee to customers.

Actually they always knew this information. They could actually adjust the number of reservable units to save some for walk ins if they choose to.

Quote:

In years past, any excess iPhones or iPhone reservations that go unclaimed by the end of the day are made available for sale to walk-in customers.

More like any unclaimed reservations went toward fulfilling more reservations.

The only real difference seems to be that once the reservations hit the limit for the stock on hand, they aren' t allowing more reservations. You would have to come back at 9pm that night and try again. Rather than the old system which kept a running wait list of names and emailed people (who then came in saying they never got the email etc)
post #12 of 15
While the Manhattan stores have had constant long lines, I walked into a Long Island store on Friday and would have been able to buy a phone immediately (and was going to), but after multiple tries, Apple couldn't connect to the AT&T servers and I didn't want to wait, so I cancelled. But at least in that store, too many buyers didn't seem to be the problem. And my local AT&T store didn't seem to be a problem either.

For reasons I won't go into here, I would have preferred to buy directly from Apple as opposed to AT&T. But if Apple is now requiring reservations, I'll probably just walk into an AT&T.
post #13 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by emulator View Post

Did they run out of the "S" sticker??

0/10. Pathetic attempt at trolling.

Originally Posted by asdasd

This is Appleinsider. It's all there for you but we can't do it for you.
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Originally Posted by asdasd

This is Appleinsider. It's all there for you but we can't do it for you.
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post #14 of 15
I picked one up on Saturday, after about a 45 minute wait in line. I just checked on their reservation site, and my local store is completely sold out of every model...

When I was there, the stock of Sprint had sold out across all models, and Verizon had only three white 16gb left. My girlfriend picked up one of those, and I one of the 16gb black models. They had plenty of those left at the time... but not anymore!
post #15 of 15
I like this approach a lot more than the crapshoot of going to the stores and hoping they've got one in the size/color/network I want. I'm sure it relieves some of the stress and confusion the store employees faced as well.
Do you realize that fluoridation is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous Communist plot we have ever had to face? - Jack D. Ripper
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Do you realize that fluoridation is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous Communist plot we have ever had to face? - Jack D. Ripper
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AppleInsider › Forums › Mobile › iPhone › Apple says its retail stores now require reservation for iPhone 4S buyers