Can I Still Get an iPhone 5 on Friday?

There are plenty of high-fives in Cupertino right now. Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) revealed this morning that it sold 2 million iPhone 5 smartphones within 24 hours of opening up the presale window. For those scoring at home, this is more than twice as many first-day pre-orders the tech giant scored a year earlier with the iPhone 4S.

The initial supply of pre-orders that will be delivered on Friday were gone even earlier. Those reservations were spoken for within the first hour. Folks placing orders now are being told that their shipments won't be received until October.

People who still want an iPhone 5 on Friday aren't out of luck, though. They'll just need comfortable shoes. Lines at some of Apple's 356 stores are already forming, since Apple also sends out an allotment of smartphones for standby customers on a first-come, first-served basis. It's a smart move by Apple, of course. Limit the pre-orders, and turn the queues outside its stores into carnival sideshows.

Potential buyers can also try their luck at the stores operated by all three of the country's major wireless carriers. The lines will be shorter, and there won't be local television news cameras around.

This morning's Detroit Free Press is spelling out the pre-order process that's still in place at some of the leading bricks-and-mortar chains. It's a smart way to secure a phone, though those stores should also have a limited supply of iPhone 5 handsets for walk-in customers.

Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT  ) shoppers have to go their local stores to place their advance orders with $25 deposits. Wal-Mart is throwing in a digital movie rental from its Vudu streaming service. That's not much, but it's better than nothing.

Best Buy (NYSE: BBY  ) and RadioShack (NYSE: RSH  ) deposits are $50 and also need to be done at the actual store, where they can be picked up by Friday or later.

This may sound like just what the struggling Best Buy and RadioShack need, but let's not forget about the very nature of smartphones. Once someone buys an iPhone 5 at Best Buy, it's not as if they ever have to come back to the store for CDs, movies, games, or books. Apple has direct distribution on all of the media formats. Then there's the low-margin nature of the iPhone 5 when it comes to retailers. RadioShack's margins have been crushed over the past two years, largely on the success of Apple's device.

Apple wins. Again. Get used to it.

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A new premium report on Apple details the opportunities and challenges in store for its shareholders. It's also been updated to include new iPhone 5 details! For more details, click here now.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Best Buy, RadioShack, and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz calls them as he sees them. He owns no shares in any of the stocks in this story and is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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  • Report this Comment On September 19, 2012, at 9:38 AM, JohnHeenehan wrote:

    What's the difference between "pre-order" and "order." One is three letters longer and includes a hyphen. A simply rule of grammar is you can't "pre-" a verb. I ask you, can you pre-kill your cat?

    I only ask that you don't let corporate jargon infect the usually crisp and fun writing on Motley Fool.

  • Report this Comment On September 19, 2012, at 1:08 PM, rhealth wrote:

    John, a pre-order is used to distinguish an order for a product never before available, as opposed to a back order, for a product that exists but is not currently in stock. You would say that you were going to prekill your cat if you had to borrow the knife from your cat hating neighbor and did not have it in your hot little hand. You would inform your cat of the prekilling to make it that much more terrifying.

    Why do you want to kill your cat anyway? Did he pee in your bed?

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