Apple iPhone 4 Demand in China Swamps Unicom


China Unicom (CHU) announced that its supply of Apple (AAPL) iPhone 4 handsets has been exhausted after the sale of over 200,000 units. The smartphone began selling in China on Saturday. The cellular provider also said it could no longer take orders online. "We are close to sell-out and there's no timetable for the arrival of the second batch of products," said one China Unicom store clerk, according to tech website AllThingsDigital.

Apple had similar problems with the iPhone 4 launch in the U.K. and several other countries when it was released in June. That caused the company to announce on June 16 that "many customers were turned away or abandoned the process in frustration." Apple also had iPad shortages when it launched in the U.S. in April.

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There have been a number of conspiracy theories that claim Apple keeps demand for its new products low to stimulate later sales or drive news coverage around the launches. It is just as probable that Apple has poor supply management and has trouble gauging demand for its own products. Apple may be good at the development of products but unusually poor in anticipating demand.