With the iPhone 5S and 5C release date almost upon us – Apple’s new handsets arrive tomorrow – just one odd question remains: Why can’t you pre-order the iPhone 5S? Each and every one of its predecessors has been available to pre-order, and has subsequently gone on to break various world records for the fastest-selling and most-pre-ordered smartphone.
Further muddying the field, the cheaper, colourful compatriot of the 5S, the iPhone 5C, is available to pre-order. The most obvious reason for the lack of iPhone 5S pre-orders is constrained supply, most likely due to manufacturing issues affecting Apple’s stringent QA, but there are some other possibilities as well, such as artificially inflating demand and column inches by forcing fans to queue up outside retail stores.
Almost since its inception, there have been rumours that the iPhone 5S was facing manufacturing difficulties. At the time, we chalked those rumours up as wild speculation and lame attempts to drive website traffic. With the iPhone 5S not available for pre-order, though, those rumours suddenly seem a whole lot more pertinent.
It’s impossible to say why Apple is having manufacturing/QA issues, but given the similarity of the design to the iPhone 5, it would be fairly safe to assume that it’s the new embedded fingerprint scanner. If the 5S is proving hard to manufacture in large quantities, or perhaps if production started late for any number of reasons, it would explain why Apple doesn’t want to offer pre-orders. At least one (anonymous) US carrier has said that the supply of iPhone 5S stock has been “disappointing.”
Another possibility is that Apple isn’t entirely sure how the iPhone 5C will play out. In our eyes, the 5C is a safe bet that’s solely designed to drive more profit from those who would’ve bought last year’s iPhone 5. But maybe Apple is concerned that the 5C will cannibalise the 5S in some way. The same US carrier that complained about iPhone 5S supply says that iPhone 5C pre-orders haven’t been as good as expected.
It’s possible that Apple knew that demand for the 5S and 5C wouldn’t be as high as in previous years, and thus didn’t want to set itself up for a fall. If Apple allowed for 5S pre-orders, but then didn’t announce that it had broken the best/fastest pre-order record, the yolk would hit the proverbial countenance.
Dovetailing into the last point, or perhaps incorporating all of the above, it might just be that Apple wants to rekindle some old-school, queue-wrapped-around-the-block-four-times, lunatics-camping-out-overnight retail store furore (check out the pic above, which shows the line outside Apple’s Fifth Avenue store in New York already growing back on Tuesday morning).
With no iPhone 5S handsets landing on doorsteps on the morning of 20 September, everyone will be forced to head to their local Apple store if they want to get their hands on a 5S on release day. If Apple is worried about flagging interest in the iPhone, or poor production yields, being able to point to the massive lines outside its retail stores and then turn customers away after selling out of the iPhone 5S would do wonders to keep the cult of Apple alive.
Image Credit: Djjonblak