Apple’s biggest launch of the year is letting some customers down.
There will be no iPhone 7 Plus devices available to people who walk into an Apple Store on Friday, the company confirmed to Mashable. Apart from its larger build, the iPhone 7 Plus is coveted over its smaller brother because of its dual camera, which allows for true optical zooming and will eventually enable a new “Portrait” mode in iOS.
“Historically, launch weekend is always tough, from a supply point of view. It’s just how it works,” Neil Cybart, who runs the Apple blog Above Avalon, told Mashable in an interview Thursday.
But there are a few unique factors working against the iPhone 7 Plus launch. Cybart suspects supply chain issues may be slowing production of the device’s dual camera. The buzz around the camera may also have produced demand that exceeded expectations. That upgrade makes the iPhone 7 Plus a fundamentally different device than the iPhone 7, which may spur people to grab the larger model.
“The ramp up is very, very aggressive.”
“You could simply have more people interested in the Plus model,” Cybart said.
Horace Dediu, a well-known Apple analyst who blogs for Asymco, added that Apple’s aggressive push into new territories may also have something to do with it.
“You have dozens and dozens of countries that usually had to wait until November,” Dediu told Mashable. “The ramp up is very, very aggressive. At the same time, that means you might also not be able to get your hands on [an iPhone 7 Plus].”
He added that Sprint and T-Mobile have reported a 3-to-400 percent increase in iPhone orders.
A benefit to locking yourself up in Apple’s world
Not every customer is having a hard time getting a device. People who have enrolled in Apple’s “iPhone Upgrade Program” are able to reserve an iPhone 7 Plus for pick-up on Friday (as long as they don’t want the definitely sold out “Jet Black” color).
“If you’re part of the iPhone Upgrade Program, there is supply available,” Cybart told Mashable. “If I wanted to, I could upgrade to a Plus on Friday at my local Apple Store.”
This, too, should surprise exactly no one. The upgrade program is a brilliant —and arguably devious — business model wherein consumers accept a 24-month loan from Apple in exchange for a brand new device that they pay back in regular installments. In a sense, it’s win-win: You get a new iPhone starting at a relatively affordable $32.41-a-month, and Apple locks you into iOS without going through a carrier like Verizon.
“If you’re part of the iPhone Upgrade Program, there is supply available.”
Of course, you’re on the hook for the full price of the iPhone, much as you’d have to pay a service provider an early termination fee for breaking your contract. But Apple lets you upgrade your iPhone when new models come out, even if you’ve only paid off 12 of your installments. You just need to return your iPhone to Apple — where it can be refurbished and resold. This resets the 24-month loan cycle.
You can see why Apple would be eager to have people join this program, and why it’d like to keep its existing customers happy. Just note that joining the program now won’t entitle you to an iPhone 7 Plus tomorrow — Apple’s only made devices available to existing Upgrade Program customers.
Jason Abbruzzese contributed reporting.