Apple reportedly doled out fewer iPhone 5 units to other retailers

Third-party retailers seemed to be in short supply of the new iPhone, compared with inventory at some of Apple's own stores, says The Wall Street Journal.

Lance Whitney
Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
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Eager iPhone 5 buyers wait outside Apple's Palo Alto store early Friday morning.
Eager iPhone 5 buyers wait outside Apple's Palo Alto store early Friday morning. James Martin/CNET

Apple may have reserved the lion's share of iPhone 5 handsets for its own stores, leaving other retailers in short supply.

Citing "store sales staff and other people familiar with the situation," The Wall Street Journal reported today that Apple's own stores seemed to have a healthy stock of iPhone 5 units to sell this past weekend. But other retail outlets had to grapple with a much more limited supply right from the get-go.

People at Best Buy, RadioShack, and Target told the Journal that they didn't even receive enough units to satisify pre-sales orders. One Best Buy store reportedly had received only 10 new phones for Friday's launch day, while a Target saleswoman said her store got only about eight phones.

I went iPhone 5 shopping Saturday afternoon. A salesman at my local Apple store told me that some models were still available, though not the one I wanted -- a 64GB black version. He suggested checking back again on Sunday since the store was expecting more shipments. A rep at my local Verizon store told me that the carrier couldn't ship me the 64GB iPhone 5 until October 19.

That wait time just about matches the estimate from Best Buy. In an e-mail picked up by the Journal, company vice president Shawn Score said that "it could take as long as 28 days to find the iPhone you want."

Third-party retailers have faced short supplies of iPhones in the past. However, the Journal said, the problem seemed greater this time around.

Apple said today that altogether it sold 5 million iPhone 5 units over the weekend, outpacing the 4 million iPhone 4S handsets sold during that device's launch weekend.

CNET contacted Apple for comment and will update the story when we receive more information.