The Tech Herald

Analysts: iPhone shortage is 3G precursor

by Stevie Smith - Apr 3 2008, 17:03

Does the lack of EDGE iPhones mean that 3G units are just around the corner? Credit: TotalAldo/Flickr.

Prior indicators would suggest the network enhanced 3G iPhone is on track for a retail arrival some time during the coming summer, but a growing shortage of the original, slower EDGE model have led to a rush of speculation regarding that scheduled release.

More pointedly, the ongoing depletion of iPhone stocks across the United States has prompted a wave of rumour suggesting that the enhanced 3G model could take retail stores by storm as early as next week.

Tracing the rumours backward, the initial whisperings of an iPhone shortage started earlier this week when investment analysts from Piper Jaffray and Bernstein relayed to clients that Apple’s diminutive touch-screen smartphone was missing from shelves at hundreds of US stockists.

However, despite any resulting fan-based expectation connected to the tantalising premature arrival of the 3G iPhone, a spokesman for Apple Inc. insists that the California gadget giant is “working to replenish iPhone supplies” as quickly as it can, and that “stores continue to receive shipments of iPhone almost every day.”

Although Apple’s comments suggest its 3G summer rollout is still in place, both Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray and Toni Sacconaghi of Bernstein believe that the rather sudden unit shortage is a potential precursor to an advanced arrival.

According to Munster, Apple has traditionally adopted the strategy of dropping products from its stores directly before launching an updated version of that same product. Based on that trend, the Piper Jaffray investment analyst claims there is an 80 percent chance of Apple surprising the market with an early release of its 3G iPhone handset.

Conversely, Bernstein analyst Sacconaghi thinks an advanced release is also possible, but something of a long shot, and that the current US shortage is more likely to be a consequence of a temporary hiccup in Apple’s supply line.

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