The shortages were a milder repeat of last summer, when Apple’s stores quickly exhausted supplies of the then-new iPhone 3G, a situation that persisted for several weeks until the company could refill the pipeline.
On Sunday, Apple’s stock-checking tool indicated that 13 of the 211 stores in the U.S., or six per cent of the total, were completely out of the iPhone 3GS.
Another 31 stores, or 15 per cent, had only one of the four models for sale.
The hardest-to-find iPhone 3GS was the $199 white 16GB model, which was out of stock in 121 stores, or 57 per cent of the outlets. Supplies of the $299 32GB black iPhone 3GS were also short, as 84 stores, or 40 per cent of the total, reported it unavailable.
Customers Sunday were most likely to find the $199 black 16GB iPhone 3GS and the $299 white 32GB model in stock: Just 23 per cent of the stores were out of either of those configurations.
The iPhone 3GS has been available since June 19, but Apple only recently re-activated the inventory tool. Last summer, users were told to use the tool after 9 p.m. local time each day to check availability for the next day. This year, there is no such instruction, since the tool has been changed to offer better information.
“You can check the most up-to-date availability right here,” said Apple on the tool’s Web page. “Shipments of iPhone 3GS arrive most days and availability is updated hourly.”
All stores currently have the $99 8GB iPhone 3G in stock, Apple added.