Apple Gave Few Phones to Other Retailers

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By Ian Sherr and Ann Zimmerman

Apple Inc.’s new iPhone 5 remained a hot item following the sales kickoff Friday, with customers flocking to stores to buy the new handset. But they seemed to have little luck finding the gadget at the Silicon Valley company’s retail partners.

While Apple’s own stores appeared to be selling the new device in large numbers, other retail chains that offered the device had limited quantities from the outset, according to sales staff in stores and other people familiar with the situation.

Shortages have hit Apple partners in the past, but the disparity seemed more pronounced this time.

Some Best Buy Co. stores received as few as 10 new phones for launch day, according to a person familiar with the matter. The phones were all one variety of data size and carrier, this person said, leaving many preorders for the other variations unfulfilled.

Other Best Buy shops got as many as 40 phones of differing varieties, but even these weren’t enough to fill preorders, according to store workers. The company on Thursday began emailing customers who had pre-ordered the iPhone 5, saying it had not received enough of the specific model they ordered.

 

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(Published Sept. 24, 2012, in The Wall Street Journal.)