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iPhone 6 supply improves, but still tight -- analyst

More than half of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models were available in stores as of December 12, according to Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster.

Some models of the iPhone 6 are still playing hard to get. CNET

Supply is starting to catch up with demand for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, but not as quickly as anticipated, according to analyst Gene Munster.

In an investor's report released on Monday, the analyst shared that Apple stores indicated 56 percent of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models were available as of December 12 -- a big jump from almost no supply in mid-November, but still not the 100 percent availability that was expected at this point.

It seems to play out like this every time a new iPhone is released. Supply is initially limited, so consumers have to wait weeks to get the new model. Around the holidays, this issue can become critical, as some consumers may choose to bypass putting the latest iPhone on their shopping lists if there's concern they won't get the phone in time for the holiday.

Last year, supply of the iPhone 5S matched the demand in early December, according to Munster. But this year, it's taking longer to catch up, according to Munster.

Said Munster: "We now expect it to be closer to 80 percent by the end of the quarter."

To estimate iPhone 6 supply versus demand, Munster's team tracks the availability of 12 iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models from Verizon and AT&T at 80 Apple Stores for same-day, in-store pickup.

Of the phones tracked in eight countries outside the United States, the analyst found that supply has increased, but below the typical amount expected. A check of Apple's online store in nine countries revealed that ship times have improved to three to five business days, but Munster said he would have expected it to be same business day by now.

Online supply at Apple's US online store now shows a ship time of one to three business days for the 16GB and 64GB editions of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. That's an improvement from last week, when ship times were estimated at three to five days, and from November, when buyers had to wait 7 to 10 days for the phone to ship.

But the 128GB iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are still playing hard to get. The highest-capacity model shows a ship time of 7 to 10 business days.

How will this waiting game affect Apple financially?

Munster said that Apple probably knew that iPhone 6 supply would be constrained when it issued its financial forecast for the current quarter. But the unexpectedly lower supply could limit any "meaningful upside" to revenues for the quarter. Wall Street is forecasting that iPhone 6 demand pushed into the March quarter could boost next quarter's revenues 3 percent to 5 percent higher.