Launched in South Africa on December 14, many would-be iPhone 5 owners have been kept waiting as the four major operators have been left without sufficient stock of the device to meet customer demands.
Many buyers who had been put on waiting lists until shipments of the new generation smartphone arrive are still without the handset despite nearly a month having elapsed since the launch and the immediate spike in orders.
“Been on a waiting list for weeks now and when I chase the store (MTN) they cannot tell me when they will expect more stock and, more importantly, when I might expect to receive a phone,” said one frustrated buyer on HelloPeter.com.
“I understand that a new iPhone will always have a long list of people waiting for it, and I was more than willing to wait. My problem is that I put my name on various waiting lists, as soon as Vodacom announced the launch date. I am still waiting,” read another post.
“After filling out the online pre-order form for an iPhone 5 (for myself and for my wife) and not receiving a call or anything by the release date, I decided to start hunting for two new iPhone 5's (sic) by calling Cell C stores in my area on the date it was meant to be released. No stock anywhere,” a Cell C customer wrote.
The operators have admitted the shortage, but have been unable to give much detail on when the backlog of orders might be fulfilled.
“We’ve largely been able to keep up with demand, although some specific models, particularly the higher capacity ones, have been harder to come by,” said Nomsa Thusi, Vodacom’s Executive Head of Media- Products and Services, according to ITWeb.
“The high uptake of the iPhone 5 is not unique to MTN as demand for devices, in most occasions, outweighs the supply,” said MTN, noting that new stock is expected later this month.
Cell C noted only that “there has been high demand for it and stock availability will have varied from area to area”.
8ta of Telkom said the demand has been simply “overwhelming”.
The only provider of the smartphone to suggest that it is coping with demand is the South African iStore, which confirmed the high level of interest in purchasing the handset.
“iStore has seen unprecedented demand for iPhone 5 since launch, both in terms of customers purchasing for cash, as well as on cellular contract,” the store said. “iStore has seen far better availability of the product compared to previous launches and we expect to have good availability going forward.”