Remember the rumor that Apple was going to update its Apple Store app to include real-time iPhone inventory status? Well, it never came to pass, at least the way I imagined.
In 2008 a developer built an iPhone 3G tracker by scraping the Apple Store’s JSON data feed (Apple quickly pulled the feed). Then in 2009 Apple posted an official iPhone 3GS tracker that was updated hourly and linked to its sales system.
Unfortunately, it's 2013 and the current implementation is incredibly obtuse and difficult to use. There's no simple chart that simply shows where to find an iPhone 5s in stock. It's a huge step backwards from 2009.
To find an iPhone 5s near you, you need to go to Apple's buy page, click on the configuration you want, then click on the tiny blue "check availability" link in the right navigation bar. From there, you can enter your zip code to see availability at five stores at a time, for that configuration. If you want to check another color or configuration, you need to start over.
Frustrated with not being able to find a gold iPhone 5c for his wife he build a slick iPhone tracker that scrapes store.apple.com for the most up to date iPhone 5s inventory information.
According to Tikotzky iPhone-Check started as a little project running on his local computer and then he decided to share it with the world. Tikotzky wrote it in an hour (using expressjs.com on top of nodejs.org) with the support of his employer (@homeandstone) who let him do it on their time. He spent another two hours tweaking it in the evening.
iPhone-Check must be scratching an itch. The site broke 100k unique visitors Wednesday and has topped 1 million page views since it was launched less than a week ago. It's a shame that Apple couldn't offer a proper iPhone tracker, because clearly there's demand.
Now where all these gold iPhones I keep hearing about?
Like iPhone-Check, iphonechecker scapes data from store.apple.com, but it's optimized it to pull inventory for all iPhone 5s colors onto a single screen, instead of having to query gold, silver and grey separately. All you need to do is pick your carrier and enter a zip code. Pro Tip: you can now bookmark a deep link to your specific query, i.e. iphonechecker.herokuapp.com/search/90210/verizon
In related news, it appears that 16GB silver iPhone 5s' are slowing trickling into Apple Stores in the northeast.