In what might turn out to be an unintentional boost to Starbuck’s sales, more than 200 Apple stores across the country will open at 7 a.m. Friday morning to make the first load of new iPhone 3G S phones available.
Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) unveiled the new model earlier this month and more recently announced it’s already sold out of the initial shipments based on pre-order sales. You must have pre-ordered the 3G S to pick it up Friday.
The current 3G model, recently reduced to a $99 sale price with two-year contract, is already available.
Apple watchers are also waiting to see if company co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs returns from his self-imposed medical leave. Jobs and Apple officials have maintained he will return full time by the end of this month.
Numerous reports say the Apple co-founder has been actively involved with company decisions via e-mail and there was at least one report that he was recently seen back on the Apple campus.
“I think Steve comes back, but it won’t be a big splash,” Broadpoint.AmTech analyst Brian Marshall told InternetNews.com. “My personal opinion is that he returns as CEO, but transitions to a senior adviser role or some other title this year and gives the CEO title to Tim Cook.”
Jobs left Cook, Apple’s chief operating officer, in charge of day-to-day operations when he announced his leave six months ago.
Marshall thinks Jobs, even if recovered from the after effects of his bout with pancreatic cancer, will want to spend more time focusing on his health. “The health issue generates attention when it shouldn’t and investors are a little confused,” said Marshall. He added that having Jobs maintain an active, but more arms length role at the company will be “good for all parties.”
Here comes the iPhone 3G S
The iPhone 3G S was the big news out of Apple’s recent Worldwide Developer’s Conference. Sporting more storage (16 and 32GB versions) and a faster processor than earlier versions, the 3G S also offers video recording, a higher resolution camera than earlier models (3 megapixel) and improved battery life.
Marshall thinks Apple will sell a million of the new 3G S models this quarter, despite competition from Palm’s new Pre device and continued heavy marketing by other smartphone players, particularly RIM for its BlackBerry line.
This is pretty much Apple’s game to lose,” he said. “The iPhone is the most compelling product out there with the biggest support from an application perspective.”
Apple recently announced the iPhone App Store now has more than passed the 50,000 applications. The next closest competitor is Android with about 5,000 apps.
As for the iPhone 3G S selling out, Marshall thinks any shortage will be short-lived. “They’re creating a little bit of buzz with the waiting list,” he said. “I expect the stores to have a new round of shipments as soon as next week.”