iPhone 7 Pre-Orders Begin, Deliveries Could Take a While

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The day after Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) introduced the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, and the day before the company began accepting pre-orders for the new devices, Apple said it would not release sales numbers for the opening weekend because it already knew it would sell out available stock because initial sales are “governed by supply, not demand.”

The official release date for the new phones is September 16, but the Apple’s initial quotes of shipping two to three weeks after that date were soon pushed out to four to six weeks for some models, especially the new black and space black phones. That could mean no new iPhone until November.

Apple has always painted this as a plus although not all analysts and investors agreed. Part of the problem is that the company always announced more first-weekend sales of the new models than of the previous year’s new models. No surprise, really, because Apple only released new products in a limited number of countries on the first release date. Last year’s initial release of the 6s and 6s Plus included China for the first time and pushed first weekend sales to a new record of 13 million.

The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus were initially released in 12 countries. The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus will be released this year in 29 countries. No matter how many new phones the company builds, it’s not likely to be enough, so why should Apple report that it sold just X million phones and then watch its stock get nicked because analysts and investors think it should have sold Y million phones?

Combined sales for the rest of this quarter and all of next quarter is probably the only meaningful measure iPhone 7 sales, and that won’t be available until the company reports results for its fiscal first quarter in January 2017.

After dipping more than 2.5% on Thursday, the company’s shares traded down about 0.5% Friday morning, at $105.03 in a 52-week range of $89.47 to $123.82. The consensus 12-month price target is $123.66.