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Apple drops the ball on Aussie iPhone 4S pre-orders

By now, iPhone 4S sales are in full swing in Australia's retail stores -- in fact, the safe bet is on the device already being sold out nationwide by the time this post goes live. Some US-based customers who pre-ordered the iPhone 4S have already received their phones. By this time tomorrow, it's likely that a million or more iPhone 4S handsets will be in customers' hands.

One group of customers definitely won't be receiving the iPhone 4S in a timely fashion: customers who pre-ordered through Apple's Australian online store (including me). Once it became mid-afternoon in Australia on the launch day of the iPhone 4S with my pre-order still stuck in "Preparing for Shipment" rather than having a definite delivery date, I called Apple to find out what was going on. The service rep I spoke to confirmed that Australian pre-orders have been delayed by one to two weeks compared to other territories; according to the information he gave me, Aussies who pre-ordered an iPhone 4S on October 7 should expect to wait until approximately October 21 through 28 before receiving it.

Unsurprisingly, it seems Apple has prioritized US and European-based pre-orders while leaving folks in the Southern Hemisphere in the lurch. Pre-ordered handsets destined for delivery in the States and Western Europe were built at Foxconn and sent out for shipment with an intended delivery date of October 14, but Australian pre-orders were put on the back burner with a shipping date of October 14. None of this was made clear at the time of pre-orders, of course, which is where my frustration and that of my fellow pre-orderers comes from.

It seems rather daft that Australians who went to the trouble of pre-ordering the iPhone 4S will apparently receive it one to two weeks after those who pre-ordered from the US or other overseas destinations, particularly since Australia is geographically closer to China than the rest of Apple's major markets. At least Aussies have it better than Kiwis, who won't see the iPhone 4S in New Zealand until December or later, but considering that Australians are already paying much higher prices for Apple gear than customers in the US, the fact that Apple considers customers loyal enough to pre-order to be low priority if they're in Australia stings that much more.

Apple has been lauded for the efficiency and speed of its distribution chain many times, but the company dropped the ball this time. At the very least Apple needs to be more up-front about its delivery dates for online orders, because I suspect many Aussies who pre-ordered would have sought other means of acquiring an iPhone 4S if they knew their shipments would be arriving so much later than for everyone else. If you pre-ordered from the Australian store and have been affected by this delay, be sure to register your dissatisfaction with Apple; hopefully, the company will wise up next year when it comes to its most loyal customers Down Under.

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