iPhone 4S supplies tighten

FRAMINGHAM, Mass.  — Apple Inc. has instituted a reservation-only policy for iPhone 4S retail sales, hinting at a repeat of the smartphone’s annual supply-and-demand mismatches.

On Monday Apple’s revised how-to-buy page told customers in Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Australia, France and Germany that the iPhone 4S would be “available in store by reservation only.” Buyers were instructed to select a retail store and check inventory after 9 p.m. local time before placing a reservation hold.

“When you come in, you’ll choose a carrier and plan, and we’ll get your iPhone up and running before you leave the store,” Apple promised.

Carly Suppa, a spokesman for Rogers Communications Inc., said Tuesday that some of its stores are out of iPhone 4S handsets. “Customers looking for specific models are best to check with their local store to see what is in stock,” she said.

Spot checks at stores in each U.S. time zone shortly after 9 p.m. last night found that the lower-priced 16GB and 32GB models were most often out of stock, while the US$399 64GB smartphone was more widely available.

In many instances, models were available in either white or black, but not both.

At 9 p.m. ET, the reservation system said the flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York City was out of the 16GB iPhone 4S for both AT&T and Sprint, and out of the 32GB for AT&T. Verizon customers had their pick of all three models.

But inside of three hours all phones at the store were pegged as “unavailable.”

The limited inventory of the 4S is not the first time Apple [Nasdaq: AAPL] has run short of a brand-new iPhone.

In 2010, Apple sold 1.7 million iPhones in the first three days after it reached retail — less than half the 4 million it claimed for the iPhone 4S — but still exhausted its stock. The outage prompted then-CEO Steve Jobs to issue an apology to “those customers who were turned away because we did not have enough supply.”

The iPhone 4S went on sale Oct 14 at Apple’s retail stores and other outlets in the U.S., the U.K, Australia, Canada, France, Germany and Japan. Apple plans to roll out the phone in another 22 countries Oct. 28., and to a total of 70 by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, Jared Newman of PCWorld U.S. reports that a handful of issues are causing problems for a subset of users.
Here’s a rundown on some early iPhone 4S issues:

Siri Not Working

On Apple’s support forums (and on Twitter), users clam that Siri, the iPhone 4S’s virtual assistant, won’t work. When asking a question, these users receive an error message saying that Siri “cannot connect to the network.”

To fix this issue, Business Insider suggests first turning Siri off in the iPhone’s settings, then going to Settings > General > Reset > Reset All Settings, and then turning Siri back on. Others say that enabling data roaming does the trick (although this can incur extra charges if you’re overseas). But there’s currently no sure fix for users who are having trouble–perhaps this is why Siri is still labeled “beta.”
Slow Sprint Data

In the U.S. some Sprint Nextel users are complaining about slow data speeds on the iPhone 4S. One user claims that the issue is iPhone-specific, and reports faster speeds on a Sprint Samsung Galaxy S II (with 4G turned off), while another finds similar speed issues with Sprint’s Evo 3D.

But this issue doesn’t affect all Sprint users–Gizmodo’s spot test actually finds that Sprint’s network allows for faster downloads than Verizon (but not AT&T), and the fastest uploads of all three carriers. However, Gizmodo’s survey of iPhone 4S users finds Sprint has the slowest average speeds. So far, Sprint hasn’t addressed the matter. Hopefully this is just a temporary glitch and not a long-term network congestion issue.
App Issues

While not hardware-related, the launch of iOS 5 has caused problems for some apps. Google Voice, for example, had to be pulled from the App Store due to crashes. Instapaper now has problems with offline functionality for users whose devices are near capacity because of the way iOS 5 clears cached data. (That issue may end up affecting lots of apps with offline components, according to Instapaper developer, Marco Arment.) Most app-related issues should be fixed eventually, but it’s unclear what Apple intends to do for apps such as Instapaper.

(From Computerworld U.S. and PCWorld U.S. With an add by Network World Canada.)

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