Apple strikes gold with latest iPhone color, but joy is in short supply

More people want the gold version of Apple's new iPhone 5s than the company bargained for. It has already asked suppliers to boost production, according to a new report.
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor
Photo courtesy Apple

When Apple's flagship store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan tells a customer who was waiting for two weeks that he can't have a 64-gigabyte, gold-colored iPhone, you know there's a problem.

Reports of the Cupertino company's lacking supply of its high-end iPhone 5s have littered the news cycle in the last week or so. Now, a new report from Juro Osawa and Lorraine Luk of the Wall Street Journal indicates that Apple is already working to beef up supply in response to stronger-than-anticipated demand.

"Apple Inc. has asked its suppliers to increase production of the gold-colored iPhone 5S by an additional one-third after seeing strong demand, people familiar with the situation said," the pair write. "It isn't clear whether there are currently supply constraints manufacturing the new iPhone."

That is precisely the narrative that plagues the company on opening day today, where various television news reports have shown customers walking away empty-handed after waiting patiently for the atypical metallic model. (In Apple's online store, shipping estimates range from 7 to 10 days for silver and 21 to 28 days for gold.)

It's an unusual result for the company, which in 2011 resisted offering a white-colored iPhone 4 for sale after production issues derailed its ability to deliver on the first day of availability. (It went on sale 10 months later.)

For the iPhone 5s, several reports suggested reduced supply across all three colors (gray, silver, gold); why the company decided to make it available despite this has customers and analysts scratching their heads this morning.

No doubt we'll soon find out what the real hangup was. In the meantime, we can only wonder: will the excitement over the gold color hold out, or is it merely preferred among zealous early adopters? We're betting that "Space Gray" wins out over the long term.

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