How Apple secretly ships millions of iPhones for every launch

Everyone knows that Apple has launched the new iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c on the 10th of September, at the media event from Cupertino. Soon after that, on the 20th of September the iPhone was simultaneously available for sale in 9 countries: U.S., Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore, and the UK. Who managed that? How was possible that the new iPhone to be available on the store’s shelves all around the world? How is Apple operating in these cases and who deals with the logistics are just a few questions that I will cover in today’s post. Tim Cook’s favourite cup of tea is the logistics, so he makes sure the right people are in the right positions, and everyone is fully aware of their responsibilities and their results. The whole logistics process for an iPhone starts way ahead its launch, and every little detail is under control. The airplanes and trucks move component from suppliers to assemble parts in China. Designated people from sales, marketing, finance and operations design case studies and try to estimate how many new devices the market needs, and Apple will be able to sell. This is a very overwrought process that makes valuations based on the market and its results are vital. Foxton starts manufacturing millions of devices after they receive the last forecast report. At the same time, the Apple software team based in the headquarters, work on the iOS software, that can be run on the new device. The new devices, which are still in China, received the final version of the new software. Millions of iPhones are shipped to the distribution hubs around the world under a strict protection, before the public media event, where Apple unveils the iPhone on the stage. At Foxton and Pegatron, in China, the packed iPhones and moved in storage containers under strict security. The containers go into the trucks and then into airplanes which flies them via pre-bought air freight space. The iPhones’ journey ends on the store shelves, where employees make sure there is enough to offer for the current market.
"It's like a movie premiere. It all needs to arrive at the exact same time everywhere." said Richard Metzler, chairman of the Transportation Marketing and Communications Association and a former executive at FedEx and other logistics companies.
Nowadays, the transportation of the iPhones is being done with airplanes such as FedEx Boeing 777 according to Bloomberg. In the past, Apple has used old Russian transport planes to transport iOS devices to the stores, but did not use sea cargoes because of the iPhone’s high price and lightweight.
“FedEx ships Apple handsets to the U.S. mainly using Boeing 777s, according to Satish Jindel, a logistics-industry consultant and president of SJ Consulting Group. Those planes can make the 15-hour flight from China to the principal U.S. hub for freight shipments in Memphis, Tennessee, without refueling, Jindel said. The 777s can carry about 450,000 iPhones and cost about $242,000 to charter, with fuel accounting for more than half the expense.”

Once the iPhone hits the store, and the launch date comes, Apple employees need to deal with people’s need in terms of colour and memory size. Things are getting more complicated this year than previous years because Apple has launched two new iPhone models, which have different colours. So far, the iPhones came in black and white, but the new iPhone 5s comes in three colours (silver, grey and gold) and three capacities while the iPhone 5c comes in five colours (yellow, green, blue, pink and white) and two capacities:
“By monitoring sales from its retail stores, website and third-party resellers, Apple re-allocates handsets based on where demand is strongest, one of the people said. IPhones coming off the assembly line in China originally destined for retail stores in Europe could be used to fill a bump in online orders, for instance. The process involves crunching a lot of data.” "The information about a shipment is as important as the physical movement. If you know where your inventory is at all times, you can make changes along the way." said Metzler, the former FedEx exec.
After all these, the Apple’s logistic process is not fully completed. The logistics team meet and study what went right, what went wrong and what can be improved in the future. I hope I managed to cover all parts of this topic and I answered all your questions regarding how Apple has secretly shipped millions of iPhones every year. If you have any other questions which remained without an answer, please do not hesitate to leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you.
May 07, 2014