UK networks left frustrated, concerned on Apple iPhone 5s/5c launch

Carriers are concerned due to the severe limitations of Apple's iPhone 5s and 5c stock in the United Kingdom, according to reports.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer
Credit: Apple

Short supplies of Apple's latest iPhone models, the 5s and 5c, have left mobile networks "frustrated" and "concerned" about causing their customers anger and disappointment on today's launch.

According to the BBC, several U.K.-based networks revealed that stock of the latest premium model -- the 5s -- is "severely limited" in the country. The carriers did not want to be identified in case they could be disadvantaged once new stock arrives.

The iPhone 5s is a premium smartphone available in three colors with storage options of 16GB, 32GB and 64GB respectively. The iPhone 5s is a 64-bit mobile phone, the first of its kind, and has an improved battery life, a 28-megapixel camera, fingerprint recognition technology and uses the latest operating system, iOS 7.

In contrast, the stock levels of the iPhone 5c are abundant. The iPhone 5c comes in five colors -- taking a break from the traditional colour schemes to come in blue, green, yellow, pink and white plastic casings. The smartphone has storage options of 16GB and 32GB, and is equipped with Apple's Retina Display and an 8MP camera.

See also: iPhone 5s, 5c, iOS 7 reviews are in: The good, the bad, the ugly

One network said that while they have "crates and crates" of the 5c, the premium 5s model was being "drip-fed" into the market -- and networks have been left frustrated over Apple's silence as to when stocks will be replenished.

When purchased online in the United Kingdom, the iPhone 5s will not be delivered until October, according to Apple's website.

Anonymous sources told the publication that the 5s stock shortage may be due to the iPhone and iPad maker's wish to drive sales of the cheaper 5c model -- as customers largely ignore it and have not placed many pre-orders for the 5c. While the 5c could be pre-ordered in the United Kingdom, networks and retailers were banned from offering pre-order services for the premium model.

However, Gene Munster, an analyst at U.S. investment bank Piper Jaffray, told the BBC that the shortage problems may be due to problems related to the new hardware. Munster said:

"We believe the 5S is more production-constrained than the iPhone 5 was at launch, likely due to the addition of the finger-print technology."

In the United States, AllThingsD reported this week that suppliers are also having the same issue; one source calling inventory "grotesquely" low and another describing shipment numbers as "disappointing."

In China, the country's second-largest operator by subscriber base revealed it received over 100,000 online orders over the past week for the iPhone 5c and 5s, despite a lukewarm reception and disappointment that the 5c is out-pricing much of the general public.

In Australia, there seems to be little interest in the 5c for those who waited in line for up to 20 hours. The gold coloured 5s, however, was sold out by 7.30am, and police patrolled to keep Apple fans in line.

The first launch phase today for the new iPhones include Singapore, China, Australia, Japan, Germany, France and the United Kingdom. The number of countries that have access to the new gadget will climb to 100 countries by December, according to Apple.

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