Why won't Apple tell us iPhone 7 pre-order numbers?

In a first, Apple won't reveal first-weekend figures

iPhone 7 hands on

For the first time ever, Apple won't release early pre-order figures for the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. However, the change of course isn't stopping Apple from predicting it will sell out of the new iPhone anyway.

In a statement to CNBC, Apple said it won't disclose data on how many handsets are ordered during the first weekend the new iPhone is on sale because that data is "no longer a representative metric for our investors and customers."

Apple explains it's expanded its "distribution through carriers and resellers to hundreds of thousands of locations around the world." Therefore, it's "now at a point where we know before taking the first customer pre-order that we will sell out of the iPhone 7."

The company notes initial sales will be dictated by supply rather than demand, an indication stock of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus could be below what's needed to fill orders.

We previously reported that it might be tough getting your hands on the iPhone 7 due to a component shortage, though Apple unsurprisingly provided no specifics on any such issue.

Rough times ahead?

If the iPhone 7 does sell out, as Apple predicts it will, it wouldn't be the first time an iPhone has run dry. The iPhone 6 faced its own supply issues in 2014, while the iPhone 5 also ran up against insufficient component supplies.

It seems odd that Apple is only now deciding not to disclose iPhone 7 pre-order numbers given that previous iPhones have sold out at launch. The company has historically been happy to disclose record-breaking pre-order numbers during every handset release.

One way to read Apple's statement is that it expects continued flat iPhone sales. The removal of the headphone jack and incremental updates may turn off customers to the new phone, who'd rather wait for bigger changes in the iPhone 8.

The iPhone 7 goes up for pre-order starting Friday, with devices arriving in customers' hands as early as September 16.

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