Reports are surfacing that customers who ordered the new iPhone 3GS online may have delayed gratification. Consumers checking their package tracking status were shocked to discover that the delivery date, originally scheduled for Wednesday, was quietly shifted to Friday or even Monday.
A few unlucky souls were left with no shipping date but an ambiguous message: "the receiver requested a hold for a future delivery date" or "the package is being held for a future delivery date."
According to UPS's "package progress" feed, "The receiver [i.e., Apple] requested a hold for a future delivery date. UPS will attempt delivery on date requested."
Meantime, Apple has released the iPhone OS 3.0 software update as expected. And AT&T, the exclusive U.S. carrier for the iPhone, on Wednesday decided to let more customers buy the iPhone 3GS at the fully subsidized price. That price was originally only for new customers or those who qualified for an upgrade a year after buying the iPhone 3G, but the company said those who would qualify in July through September will be able to buy the 16GB iPhone 3GS for $199 and the 32GB iPhone 3GS for $299.
Michael Gartenberg, a vice president at Interpret, said Apple's request to UPS was not a sign of production difficulties, but simply an effort to better regulate deliveries.
"I don't think we're seeing delays as much as an effort to make sure devices don't ship before they're supposed to," Gartenberg said. "In terms of demand, we've seen pre-orders sell out, it seems, from AT&T, so it appears that consumers are appreciating the performance enhancements along with the new features."
While noting that Apple has occasionally had production issues in the past, analyst Greg Sterling, founding principal of Sterling Market Intelligence, agreed that the delays are a minor issue. The bigger story, he said, is the tremendous interest in the upgrade to the iPhone OS.
"People are so hungry for the update," Sterling said. "There's a huge demand for new stuff related to the iPhone."
Although a few people in the Twitterverse reported some minor glitches, Sterling praised Apple for handling the demand so smoothly. "It's a dramatic contrast to the most recent Windows Mobile update," he said. "I had to take physically take my phone to the Sprint store and leave it there for a couple of hours. By and large, the iPhone OS upgrade is plug and play."
Sterling agreed that the hardware upgrades announced by Apple in the new iPhone 3GS aren't dramatic, but will still appeal to consumers.
'A Lot of Cleanup'
"I think that there's a lot of cleanup going on in the 3GS release," he said. "There's nothing dramatic, apart from the price drop, but a lot of wish list/deficiencies were fixed." In particular, Sterling said, video (which Gartenberg praised as well) will appeal to consumers.
The biggest remaining feature to be added, he suggested, is one that Palm is touting heavily for the Pre: The ability to run more than one app at a time.
"There must be a very specific reason why multiple apps won't run on the iPhone," Sterling said. "Apple's made a very distinct choice in not allowing it so far."
Mike Kent also contributed to this story.