Apple Is Already Shipping Many “Late” iPhone 5 Pre-Orders

Just about an hour after Apple’s iPhone 5 became available for pre-order, the company’s website started alerting customers that their phones would likely arrive a week or two after the phone went on sale in its retail stores on September 21. Clearly, most pundits assumed, this meant that the demand for the iPhone 5 was so overwhelming that even Apple’s finely tuned supply chain couldn’t quite keep up with demand. It turns out, however, that instead of having to wait two weeks or more, many of these customers who were originally told their phones would arrive on October 5 or later are now getting their phones delivered tomorrow or a bit later in the week.

I ordered mine around noon PT the morning after they went on sale and was quoted a delivery date of October 5. To my surprise, the phone actually shipped on Friday, just before Apple’s own stores opened, and it has since found its way from Foxconn’s assembly plant in Zhengzhou, China to UPS Worldport in Kentucky. At this rate, it will likely arrive on Monday morning.

Many others who were previously quoted similar arrival dates are now also seeing their delivery dates moved up as their phones start shipping. Oddly enough, judging from the times and dates other customers are quoting on the usual Apple forums, there doesn’t seem to be any clear pattern as to who is getting their phones shipped when.

Still, it’s pretty obvious that Apple gave itself lots of room to deliver all of these “late” pre-orders early. Feel free to insert your favorite (conspiracy) theory here. Maybe Apple wanted to get some extra hype by telling people that the first batch was already sold out? Maybe it wanted to get more people to line up in front of its stores by giving people the impression they would otherwise have to wait a few weeks for their phones? Maybe Apple just ramped up its production quicker than planned?

My guess is that Apple simply gave people these later delivery dates in order to give itself enough room to deliver on time and to potentially over-deliver. Who, after all, is going to complain if their shiny new iPhone 5 arrives almost two weeks early?