Apple’s revised how-to-buy page told customers in Australia, the U.S., the UK, Canada, France and Germany that the iPhone 4S would be “available in store by reservation only.” Buyers were instructed to select a retail store and check inventory after 9 p.m. local time before placing a reservation hold.
“When you come in, you’ll choose a carrier and plan, and we’ll get your iPhone up and running before you leave the store,” Apple promised.
At 5 a.m. local time all models at the store were “unavailable.”
The limited inventory of the 4S is not the first time Apple has run short of a brand-new iPhone.
In 2010, Apple sold 1.7 million iPhones in the first three days after it reached retail—less than half the 4 million it claimed for the iPhone 4S—but still exhausted its stock. The outage prompted then-CEO Steve Jobs to issue an apology to “those customers who were turned away because we did not have enough supply.”
The iPhone 4S went on sale October 14 at Apple’s retail stores and other outlets in Australia, the U.S., the U.K, Canada, France, Germany and Japan. Apple plans to roll out the phone in another 22 countries Oct. 28, and to a total of 70 by the end of the year.