Why can’t Apple meet iPhone 6/Plus demand months after launch?

“Months after Apple launched its much-hyped iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, the company remains unable to meet the huge demand from consumers,” Linda Federico-O’Murchu reports for CNBC. “n late November, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster wrote in a research note that only 58 percent of iPhone 6/6 Plus models were in stock at retail stores nationwide. Thus, two months after the product launch, 42 percent were still unavailable for public sale.”

“In varying degrees, this scene has played out with each new iPhone release, but this year, the inevitable race to get one–whatever the cost, whatever the inconvenience–was particularly intense. Customers have reported waiting weeks, even months, for online orders, or standing in ridiculously long lines—and even so, many have gone home empty-handed,” Federico-O’Murchu reports. “‘I’m surprised. That’s pretty long at this stage,’ said Frank Gillett, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research. ‘But this shows very strong and sustained demand. Good for Apple.'”

“Even with the huge demand, some industry professionals wonder whether the shortages are a simple supply/demand equation,” Federico-O’Murchu reports. “‘My gut feeling is that there’s something on the supply side that’s causing some sort of hiccup,’ said Ari Zoldan, founder and CEO of Quantum networks LLC, an e-commerce technology company in New York City. ‘I’m 99 percent sure this is not a coordinated marketing strategy. You don’t want to create a situation where people are upset with the brand,’ he said.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Why can’t Apple meet iPhone 6/Plus demand months after launch? Because iPhones with larger displays are at least two years late, that’s why. The demand will remain insatiable for the foreseeable future.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “David E.” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Woz: The iPhone 6 is three years too late – November 11, 2014
For Apple, a bigger iPhone has never been more crucial – January 3, 2014
Does the iPhone need a bigger screen? – November 12, 2013

37 Comments

      1. Hmph! How are you forgetting the Oracle at Delphi? Inhaling the breath of Apollo, year after year, dispensing bankable wisdom for those with the wit to decipher my recondite sayings…all whilst remaining virginal, unlike all other advisors for hire…

  1. On October 23rd I ordered a 128 GB 6 Plus through Verizon online. I was told initially that it would ship Nov. 14th. The date was changed to Dec. 5th, then Dec. 12th. I”m not holding my breath.
    For grins I went through the motions of ordering the same through the Apple store online, and was advised that it would ship in 2-3 weeks. Something is amiss, unless Apple is just being barraged with orders, in which case this Apple investor is quite happy.

      1. Never buy anything from a carrier except service. It’s all they have for sale. Can’t imagine buying an iPad from a carrier and locking it to them for absolutely no reason.

  2. Firstly, as the article explains, the logistics of the supply chain are incredibly complex. Secondly, forecasts are, at best, educated guesses. Thirdly, Apple under Cook is somewhat conservative.

    Samsung’s problems with unexpectedly slow sales of its flagship phone illustrate what happens when you are overconfident. Apple also got it wrong with the 5C and overestimated demand.

    Each iPhone pushes the boundary for the manufacturers who struggle to achieve high yields in the initial ramp.

    The manufacturers rely mostly on human labour. Foxconn still cannot produce robots that work at the tolerances required by Apple. So a large increase in demand requires a huge hiring effort and a huge increase in manufacturing capacity. That requires a huge investment in buildings, people and training.

    The shortage is most likely just a consequence of the logistics involved – there is no need to hunt for a conspiracy.

  3. The only thing coordinated about this strategy was not to make larger iPhones for 2 years and let Samsung gloat about their phones simply on the basis of size. All this time, Samsung thought their software and hardware were great and never improved them. In fact things got more fragmented and confusing.

    Then in one fell swoop, Apple came out with a bigger iPhone. Game over. Too late to fix all the fundamental mistakes in software, hardware, marketing, etc.

    1. Exactly, and just because the big iPhones came later than most wanted, it was just in time to snatch up all those folks upgrading their big android phones. To qoute Buzz Lightyear “We’re not aiming for the truck!”

  4. “Why can’t Apple meet iPhone 6/Plus demand months after launch? Because iPhones with larger displays are at least two years late, that’s why. — MDN”

    Contrary to what MDN believes, perhaps, it was part of Apple’s strategy to let Samsung lay waste to the fellow Android mfrs, where the consensus used to be increasing competition, became only one company competition. Then, let Samsung spend billions, about $25B in marketing and promotional expenses to promote the idea of big screens, only to have Apple pull out the rug from under them when that was all Samsung had to offer.

    Just look at the lay of the land now. There is no competition from Nokia, Blackberry, Motorola, Sony, LG, and HTC. They’ve all been laid to waste by Apple and Samsung. Now, Samsung has backed themselves into a corner by spending untold billions to promote big screens, when big screens are not a moat and never have been. Samsung profits are down over 60%. That’s an epic fail for Samsung. The bigger they are, the harder they fall. Who’s to say it wasn’t part of the plan? Let Samsung lay waste to their Android brothers, and then pull out the rug from under Samsung’s feet.

    1. I also disagree with those who like to “blame” Apple for not introducing a large-screen iPhone sooner. I like your explanation, and note that Apple has demonstrated real strategic insight in many of its key decisions over the decades. But I would also like to suggest that the reason for Apple’s timing of introducing a big-screen device could be much simpler than the “strategic vision thing”.

      Maybe Apple really just had its hands full dealing with the unbelievable success of the iPhone and the iPad — even without a big-screen iPhone. The past 7 years have been a most incredible period for Apple, and one in which they have had to deal with huge growth and many other issues besides.

      I believe Samsung and Android were primed for decline, even before Apple’s big-screen phone was introduced. (Samsung’s decline was not triggered by Apple’s large screen phone alone.) People increasingly saw Samsung Android for what it really was — a poor imitation of a truly great device, and a product that represented poor value-for-money when all things were considered, including security, privacy, processing power, functionality, aesthetics — and a rip-off. As I recall, the majority of Samsung’s sales (or shipments?) were not its large-screen devices, anyway.

      I think it is silly to blame Apple for waiting so long before introducing a large screen phone. Apple has been dealing with a lot of change and growth, and has been harried by detractors, irritants, and nuisances all the while. I think Apple is doing a fabulous job of managing its business.

  5. Decided to wait a bit, had a call during the week from my network provider asking if I was still interested in a 6/6+, said I’d be in Saturday to have a chat, walked out with a Space Grey 128Gb 6+.
    Sorted. 😊

  6. Hmmm, I just walked into a Northridge, CA Apple Store and asked if they had a Gold iPhone 6 Plus 128Gb, they said yes and I bought it. Had to cancel my Apple online order which still had 3 weeks to go. I suspect instant chewing acquisition also means location, location, location. Such a terrible demand problem Apple has. (Forgive me a happy chuckle.)

    Oh and the Gold iP6+? Lovin’ it. 🙂

    1. Instant chewing acquisition? Seems a Siri error, but I can’t guess what it was supposed to be 🙂

      But then, maybe instant chewing acquisition is what led to that gut feeling the analyst had.

  7. I think it is the nature of a big hit. Production lines do not just spring up over night. And once you have organized/created them you do not want to soon shut them down. Apple hopes to be building these for two or more years and they pretty much know who will buy them. Apple may have miscalculated the mix of 6s and 6pluses and I imagine some adjusting is taking place. When you are ready, place your order and wait.

    There is no story here.

  8. I’m thinking that MDN is being slightly disingenuous when they say that the iPhone 6+ it’s two years late. I’m pretty sure I read right here that the “delay” was due to the need for a processor that could handle the high resolution large screen and a battery that can handle the load of such a fast processor and large display. So, which is it? Was Apple late? Or were they simply doing that they always do: releasing a product when it’s right?

    1. I think this is exactly right. Why not say they should have released the Macbook Air in 1990? They would have dominated the market. What a missed opportunity 😉

  9. Meeting demand for millions of a complex unit is not trivial. No other company has to achieve this. Ramping up to this kind of volume is hard and can take a long time.
    From what I heard from employees at Apple is that design and function rules everything. It has to be right and the engineers have to find a way to make it work well. Then the production teams have to be able make it. There are no compromises and that costs time and money.
    So yes Apple could have released a large format iPhone earlier but they would not because it would have not been good enough for them.
    What makes Apple it that uncompromising attitude to make the best product possible. Even so they still screw up (mostly in software) but their products are far superior than competitors.
    As a consumer it can be frustrating. I have learnt to wait for these things because supply can be an issue. Checking with multiple vendors is a good option because you can always cancel the previous order.

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