Apple's dual-iPhone release is twice the supply headache

New phones are grabbed up; sales may quickly exceed previous model
A customer examines a new iPhone 5s at the Nebraska Furniture Mart in Omaha, Neb., on Friday, Sept. 20, 2013, the day the new iPhone 5c and 5s models go on sale. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)AP

For the first time ever, Apple Inc. released not just one, but two iPhones on Friday, giving fans double the choice and Wall Street double the heartburn.

Apple's dual phone launch closed out a tumultuous couple of weeks for the tech giant, which took a hit on the stock market after announcing its newest smartphones, rebuffed backlash over the not-so-low-cost of its low-cost iPhone option and discovered a security glitch in its new operating system. The pressure was on for Apple to post big sales of new iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S, and assure consumers and investors that the Cupertino, Calif., company still had something revolutionary up its sleeve.

The two phones to choose from are the iPhone 5S, the company's new flagship device loaded with Apple's latest and greatest, and the lower-cost, heavier but colorful iPhone 5C.

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said in a note to investors he expected Apple would sell 5 million to 6 million iPhones, including pre-sale orders that started Sept. 13. GI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo was more optimistic, estimating weekend sales would hit 6 million to 8 million.

But investors, like fan boys and girls, may have to brace for disappointment. Tech news site AllThingsD.com reported that one US network said it had a "grotesquely unavailable inventory" ahead of launch day, and things weren't looking much better in the U.K., where networks told the BBC there was a severe shortage of the iPhone 5S. The 5S is listed on Apple's UK website as being unavailable for 7-10 business days. Some customers in Asia and Australia have been told they'll have to wait at least a week and as far out as October.

Apple sold more than 4 million units of the iPhone 4S during launch weekend in 2011, and sales topped 5 million for the iPhone 5 during its first weekend in stores almost exactly a year ago. But last year Apple stock was trading above $700, a record high; since then, it has slumped by about a third.


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