The iPhone 6 may be currently filling your newsfeed, but there’s somewhere else it’s filling too: the skies.
According to several sources, Apple is currently shipping so many new devices from its factories to sales outlets that it’s causing big delays for even “top tier” rival manufacturers.
Apple shipments via FedEx and UPS are said to be “incredibly high” for the holiday season, largely based on the new iPhone 6 and iPad refresh. It was previously reported that Apple had ordered an “unprecedented” number of iPhone 6 devices — more than twice that of the initial iPhone 5 order.
In an interview with Businessweek several years ago, Apple logistics executive John Martin explained how Steve Jobs shook up the way Apple shipped its products, leaving many other companies out in the proverbial cold:
“Apple began innovating on the nitty-gritty details of supply-chain management almost immediately upon Steve Jobs’s return in 1997. At the time, most computer manufacturers transported products by sea, a far cheaper option than air freight. To ensure that the company’s new, translucent blue iMacs would be widely available at Christmas the following year, Jobs paid $50 million to buy up all the available holiday air freight space, says John Martin, a logistics executive who worked with Jobs to arrange the flights. The move handicapped rivals such as Compaq that later wanted to book air transport.
Similarly, when iPod sales took off in 2001, Apple realized it could pack so many of the diminutive music players on planes that it became economical to ship them directly from Chinese factories to consumers’ doors. When an HP staffer bought one and received it a few days later, tracking its progress around the world through Apple’s website, “It was an ‘Oh s—’ moment,” recalls [former HP supply chain chief Mike] Fawkes.”
It’s estimated by Creative Strategies analyst Ben Bajarin that Apple could potentially sell in the 60+ million range for iPhones this holiday quarter. The 4.7-inch iPhone 6 is set to be unveiled this Tuesday, possibly alongside Apple’s long-awaited wearables debut, the iWatch.