Apple is "blown away" by consumer responseto the next-generation of its popular smartphone, which sold out forpre-orders in just minutes on Friday, spokeswoman Natalie Kerris says.And when iPhone 5 goes on sale in stores later this week, analystspredict lines as long as the record queues seen for the iPhone's debutin 2007.
"It will be a madhouse," says Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster.
RichardDoherty, an independent tech analyst at Envisioneering Group, says theimmediate sellout for the pre-order makes for an "awkward" launch forthe new phone.
"Apple expected the pre-ordersto be a one-day cycle, and they were shocked that it was just one hour.They clearly were caught by surprise by the size of the orders," Dohertysays. Had they continued fulfilling online orders, "they might haveonly had two phones available at stores on Friday."
Phonesordered online won't be delivered until Oct. 5 at the earliest,according to Apple's website. And analysts say phones available atretail, starting at 8 a.m. Friday, will probably be sold out by Sunday.
Munsterprojects sales of 6 million to 10 million iPhone 5s in the first week,most of which will be in the Friday-Sunday time period. That compares tosales of 4 million of the iPhone 4S on its first weekend last October.
Munstersays the iPhone 5 probably won't be back in stock for weeks. "For theiPhone 4 and iPad 2, they were gone after the first weekend, and therewere lines for weeks afterwards," he says.
TheiPhone 5 starts at $199 with a new or extended two-year contract. Ifyou're not yet eligible for the upgrade, the iPhone starts at $649.
Here's where to get the phone:
Apple.Brave the line at an Apple retail store (Munster thinks fans will startlining up earlier in the week.) Doors open at 8 a.m. (local time) onFriday.
Walmart. You can pre-order inthe store with a $25 deposit, and return to pick it up. Calls to randomWalmart stores said the phone might be available Friday or later,depending upon the size of its shipment. The chain throws in a freemovie rental from its Vudu digital service.
Best Buy.The iPhone 5 goes on sale Friday, in-store. The online site isn'ttaking orders or pre-orders, but is taking them in-store, with a $50deposit. It hopes to fulfill orders on Friday.
Radio Shack.Pre-order in store with a $50 deposit, and come back for the phone.Calls to stores said buyers should get their phones, if not by Friday,then by Monday.
The wireless carriers.AT&T (ships within 14-21 business days), Verizon (ships Oct. 5) andSprint (ships Oct. 5) online with pre-orders. Or purchase at stores onFriday.
"I'd recommend consumers skip thecarrier stores on Friday because they'll try to upsell you on services,and the line will go really slow," Doherty says. "They might find moresatisfaction at a retailer."
Doherty believesthe line for the iPhone 5 will be the longest and most intense sincethe first iPhone went on sale in 2007, attracting as many as 1 millionfolks. But there's more to it than just heavy consumer demand in theU.S.
Consumers in other countries where theiPhone 5 won't be on sale until later also want to be first on the blockwith the hot new device, and will pay handsomely for it. Doherty thinksevery other person on the line will be buying phones to ship out tobuyers elsewhere.
"We expect a lot of FedEx and UPS boxes to be going out to China, Europe and the Middle East that day," Doherty says.