O2’s CEO has said the operator was left ‘disappointed’ with heavily restricted supply of the iPhone 5s, with the manufacturer expected to increase availability for the much sought after handset from next month.
The UK’s second largest operator chose to restrict iPhone 5s sales to its online customers, when the latest Apple flagship went on sale on 20 September. While rival retailers chose to sell the device instore, there was widespread anger at the lack of stock of the 5s compared to previous Apple launches. Supply of the 5s is understood to have been as little as a third compared to that of last year’s iPhone 5.
Speaking to Mobile, O2 CEO Ronan Dunne, whose company secured the exclusive for the iPhone when it first went on sale in 2007, said the decision to launch online only was a way of managing customer expectations. He said: ‘We are always trying to make sure that we do the right thing. It’s always disappointing when we can’t meet people’s needs on day one.’
He added: ‘We couldn’t give a good customer experience in store for this launch. Our rivals sold the handset instore but if they are all sold out by 9.05am, that’s a bit of a pyrrhic victory and a lot of disappointed customers. Our staff did miss the razzamatazz of the launch as we do launch the iPhone better than others.’
While supply of the 5s continues to be constrained, retailers reported plenty of supply of the iPhone 5c. Initially touted as the long demanded entry level Apple device, the handset has got off to a slow start in the UK. Retailers said its high pricing, with the 16GB Sim-free handset on sale for £469, has put customers off. According to multiple sources, consumers have been happier to pay extra to get their hands on the 5s. Apple was accused by retailers of restricting supply of the 5s to push consumers towards buying the 5c.
It is hoped that iPhone 5s supplies will begin to increase in the UK after the manufacturer launches the handset into another 50 territories by early November.
Apple will receive the trade’s attention next Tuesday (22 October), when it is expected to hold its latest launch event. The manufacturer is believed to be readying its fi fth iteration of the iPad tablet, with a thinner bezel than previous models. A newer version of the iPad mini will also be unveiled at the event.
Both devices are expected to go on sale next month.