Apple customers scrambling to get their hands on iPhones in the latest colours shouldn't come as a surprise by now.
Last year, with the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, the rose gold version was the most sought after. This year, with the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, the baton has been passed to the black and jet black versions.
Especially the oh-so-glossy jet black version.
Shipping estimates for that version was the first to slip when pre-orders started; in fact, if you were to order the 7 Plus from Apple today, be prepared to get your phone only in November.
All this has inevitably resulted in would-be buyers turning to telcos to get their hands on the freshest iPhone colours. But it looks like our local telcos have very limited stock for the jet black versions themselves.
According to Singtel, it has no stock for the jet black iPhone 7 on launch day, which is tomorrow, Sept 16. This applies to both the regular 4.7-inch iPhone 7 and 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus, and in all capacities.
Yup, no jet black at all, even for its Prestige customers. And there's no word on when stock will arrive.
StarHub is facing supply issues too.
According to the company, due to a last-minute change in availability "at the supplier's end" (basically, Apple's), it's unable to fulfil some of its previously confirmed pre-orders. More specifically, some customers who have pre-ordered the jet black iPhone 7 in 256GB capacity or the silver iPhone 7 in 256GB capacity will not be getting their phone on launch day.
If you're affected, you'd have received an SMS like the one below from StarHub. To put it another way, if you've successfully pre-ordered but you didn't get this SMS, you're one of the lucky few that's not affected.
The StarHub spokesperson I talked to was keen to stress that stock issues are out of their control, and things could always change. StarHub says it will inform affected customers immediately if there are further changes.
Here's StarHub's official statement on this issue:
"Some of our pre-order customers are affected by a last-minute change in iPhone 7 availability at the supplier's end. We understand our customers' disappointment and we are reaching out to them to offer alternatives. We are working closely with the supplier to resolve this situation for our customers as soon as possible."
M1 isn't spared either. The telco has started to inform some pre-order customers that they won't be able to collect their iPhone on launch day. It seems that, like StarHub, it also doesn't have enough stock for the higher capacity versions of the jet black and silver iPhone 7. Additionally, looking at chatter in our forum - where a customer got a call from M1 saying that it can't fulfil his or her gold 256GB iPhone 7 Plus pre-order - and M1's reply to a customer on its Facebook page, it looks like mutiple SKUs are facing supply issues.
While iPhone supply has always been limited during launch day, the shortage seems to be exceptionally severe this year. So much so that some telcos that have already collected payment (based on the stock they're supposed to be allocated) are now forced to backtrack on their earlier pre-order confirmations and offer alternative solutions to customers. It's a nightmare for the telcos right now.
Of course, the next question is: Does that mean iPhone stock will be limited at Apple authorised resellers tomorrow? All signs point to yes, especially on the jet black models and the 256GB models. In fact, according to this report from TechCrunch, Apple has issued a statement essentially saying that walk-in customers should be prepared that they may not get the model they desire.
Right now, I just feel for the poor CSOs at the telcos.
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