By Tim Nicastro
Apple’s long-awaited iPhone 5 was released Sept. 21 and like many of its predecessors, it immediately sold out at various retailers. The new iPhone features a new, sleeker design, lighter weight and a larger screen compared to its previous model. Many electronics retailers, including Best Buy, have sold out of the phone during the opening weekend.
“We immediately sold out before we even got to release day,” said Amanda Cylkowski-Loiselle, a manager at Best Buy in Leominster. As connectivity sales manager, Cylkowski-Loiselle oversees the mobile-phone department, as well as computers, tablets and MP3 players. “We unfortunately did not get enough phones to fulfill all the pre-orders on the actual release date, she said. Customers were aware, she said, that pre-orders did not guarantee a Sept.21 release date pick-up. Apple has a history of selling out this way, releasing fewer units to stores than demand dictates.
This didn’t stop customers from pre-ordering and hoping they’d be among the select group receiving the phone on its release. “For pre-order day, we had people [lined up] as early as 7; on the actual release day, people didn’t line up too early because I think it was fairly well known that in-stocks of iPhones were not great anywhere,” Cylkowski-Loiselle said.
With the release of a new iPhone, Apple has also dropped the prices of its previous releases, the iPhone 4 and 4S. Cylkoswki-Loiselle couldn’t go into sales specifics but said that there had been a rush on the less expensive iPhones. “iPhones in general are a hot item right now,” she said. On the other hand, many eager customers used Best Buy’s trade-in option to pay for or save for their iPhone. Cylkowski-Loiselle said that trade-ins are “always big when it comes to iPhones because they hold their value very well.” Other customers used their built-in contract upgrades, saved up in anticipation of this release. There was “a ton of interest in this phone. iPhone customers have been waiting for years for a new phone,” as the 4S was simply another, slightly improved version of the iPhone 4.
There are some consumers who feel that the iPhone 5 is more than just another slight upgrade. “It’s a repackaged iPhone 4 for way more money,” Fitchburg State University student Adam Hoffman said. Critics are saying similar things, citing the bigger screen and lighter design as being not enough to justify the purchase. Critics also see the redesign of both the actual phone and of the charging port as a way for Apple to nullify customers’ previous purchases of cases and iPhone charging cables, forcing them to buy new accessories. “The most common thing people grabbed with the phone was a case,” said Cylkowski-Loiselle.
It’s still too early to say definitively whether the iPhone 5 will be a success or if it will give critics more ammunition in regards to last year’s loss of Apple’s visionary CEO Steve Jobs.