Reports indicate Apple's iPhone 5s will be in short supply on Friday

Supplies of Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) new high-end iPhone 5s may be extremely constrained in the opening weekend of availability, according to multiple reports, as rumors continue to fly over how much demand there will be for both the 5s and its cheaper counterpart, the iPhone 5c.

According to reports from AllThingsDBGR and 9to5 Mac, which cited unnamed sources at carriers and Apple retail stores, units of the iPhone 5s will be in short supply. The device goes on sale Friday; Apple has not been taking pre-orders for the phone. "We will have grotesquely unavailable inventory," one carrier source told AllThingsD. A source at a second carrier also told AllThingsD that supplies from Apple have been low, but said that demand for 5s may also be slightly less than expected.

Apple declined to comment, according to AllThingsD.

"We don't believe we'll have inventory of the iPhone 5s to satisfy demand," an unnamed source familiar with one of the major carrier's launch plans told CNET. "We would certainly like more. Hopefully (Apple) will resupply quickly."

9to5 Mac reported that, according to sources at several large Apple Stores across the country, about 70-80 percent of new iPhones stocked for the launch on Friday are the iPhone 5c. Apple's online store still says the 5c will be able to ship within three to five business days. Anyone who wants the iPhone 5s on Friday will have to go to a carrier, retail or Apple store.

Pre-orders for the 5c have not been "overwhelming," an unnamed  source at a U.S. wireless carrier told Reuters on Tuesday.

Of course, supply issues are nothing new for iPhone launches, and Apple has experienced them at launches in the past, only to ramp up production. Some analysts are pretty bullish on the company's prospects. Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty expects sales of 34.5 million iPhones in the third quarter (Apple's fiscal fourth quarter), which, according to Fortune, is 11 percent better than the consensus forecast of 31 million, and would be 28 percent higher than the 26.9 million Apple sold in the same quarter last year.

Many have noted that Apple has not provided pre-order figures for the 5c, but Daring Fireball's Jon Gruber said that actually makes sense since the 5c is the only model available for pre-order. "They don't want competitors to know the breakdown of 5c/5s sales," he wrote. "If we get a sales number announcement from Apple, it'll come next week, after the 5s goes on sale for a weekend, and the figure announced will be that of all new iPhones sold. I bet."

Meanwhile, reviews have rolled in from around the Web of the new IPhones, with reviewers praising the 5s for its speedy new 64-bit A7 chip, Touch ID fingerprint scanning technology and Apple's revamped iOS 7 software. Reviewers also said data the 5c is a small step toward a "cheap" iPhone but doesn't skimp on the hardware.

Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and Sprint (NYSE:S) will sell the iPhone 5s for $199 for the 16 GB model, $299 for the 32 GB model and $399 for the 64 GB model, all with a two-year contract. Those three carriers will sell the cheaper iPhone 5c for $99 for the 16 GB model and $199 for the 32 GB model, on a two-year contract.

Meanwhile, T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS), which is touting its Simple Choice no-contract plans, will offer iPhone 5s starting at an introductory price of a $99 down payment with 24 equal monthly payments of $22.91 for the 16 GB model, and the iPhone 5c will start at an introductory price of $0 down with 24 equal monthly payments of $22 for the 16 GB model. Those introductory prices are likely to increase over time, but the 5c price does represent a slight decrease in the regular unsubsidized price.

For more:
- see this AllThingsD article
- see this 9to5Mac article
- see this BGR article
- see this CNET article
- see this Reuters article 
- see this separate AllThingsD article

Special Report: Apple iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C: Complete coverage

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