Making enough iPhones for the holidays is a big deal for Apple. The fourth quarter -- its first fiscal quarter -- is the company's biggest by far, and the iPhone is its biggest product, representing most of its revenue and even more of its profits.
But the iPhone has always been supply constrained, at least for the first few months. Apple can't make them fast enough and it sells all it makes.
Most analysts track iPhone supply levels by monitoring Apple.com's estimated ship dates (currently 7-10 business days for the iPhone 6 and 3-4 weeks for the iPhone 6 Plus).
Piper Jaffrey's Gene Munster has a better way. He (or his staff) have started checking which of 12 configurations of iPhone 6 and 6+ are available for same-day in-store pickup at 80 Apple Stores across the U.S.
He's done it twice now: On Oct. 17, four weeks after the new phones went on sale, and again on Nov. 14, four weeks later.
In a note to clients Thursday Munster reports that availability "improved significantly" between first survey and the second:
- 4 weeks: 8%
- 8 weeks: 58%
This close to the holidays, Munster writes, he would have expected something closer to 80%. Demand hasn't slacked; iPhone 6 Plus re-sellers are still lining up every morning at my nearest Apple mall store in Western Massachusetts. But Muster believes availability will hit 100% by the end of the quarter, and he's raised his price target accordingly, to $135 from $120.