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Slower iPhone 4S demand making Apple rethink supply orders?

Although the iPhone 4S appears to be selling well, a new report claims Apple has pushed back some supply shipments in the fourth quarter due to lower-than-expected demand.

How are the iPhone 4S' sales?
How are the iPhone 4S' sales?

Apple has asked parts and components suppliers to delay their fourth-quarter shipments to the first quarter of 2012 due to lower-than-expected demand for the iPhone 4S, Digitimes is reporting.

According to Digitimes' sources, Apple was too aggressive in its initial supplier orders, and sales have not been in line with those initial estimates. In addition, the company has been having trouble getting all the key components it needs for its manufacturing partners to produce the iPhone 4S. Those two factors, Digitimes' sources say, are forcing Apple to revise its orders down.

Apple's decision will have a major impact on its suppliers. According to Digitimes, the company's suppliers will get hit by a 10 percent to 15 percent revenue drop this quarter due to the delays.

It's not exactly clear that Apple's reported decision to cut down on shipments is really due to lower-than-expected iPhone 4S shipments. Last month, Apple announced that it sold 4 million iPhone 4S units during the device's first weekend of availability, easily overshadowing the iPhone 4's 1.7 million units sold during its first weekend.

What's more, Deutsche Bank analyst Chris Whitmore said yesterday that most retail stores have dwindling stock or are totally out of the iPhone 4S, and online retailers and carriers are currently promoting a 14-day lead time just to get their hands on the iPhone 4S. That report followed an investor note from Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster who said last month that he believes nearly 19 million iPhone 3GS owners will upgrade to the iPhone 4S before the year is out.

Granted, none of that means that Apple's initial sales estimates weren't higher still, which could lead the company to be disappointed with demand so far, but based on what we know, things appear to be looking quite good for Apple and its iPhone 4S.

Apple did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment on whether it did, in fact, cut back on supplies in the fourth quarter.