The iPhone 5 Sold out in 1.5 Hours, Really?

I set my alarm clock for 3:00 a.m. Eastern this morning so I could be one of the first to pre-order the iPhone 5 from Apple. I debated just waiting until first thing in the morning to order, but it's a good thing I didn't . When I awoke at my normal 6:00 a.m. I found that the iPhone was already showing 2 week shipping delays. Could this be right? 

First, a bit about my experience. Overall, things went fairly smoothly. I ordered the iPhone 5 on but had a issue adding AppleCare + to the order. Kinda a big deal for me because in order to add it after the initial purchase you have to setup a Genius Bar appointment and the nearest Genius Bar is 90 miles away. After removing the iPhone from my cart and re-starting I was given the option and all was well with the world again.

I switched from AT&T to Verizon so I had a couple extra hoops to jump through including adding information about my AT&T account and billing and personal information to setup the new Verizon account. But despite my grogginess I was in and out in less than 20 minutes with the iPhone ordered. I also picked up an extra USB cable for the office and a 30-pin to Lightning adapter and figured I'd sort the rest out after the iPhone arrived. I confirmed this morning, my iPhone still shows as delivering on September 21. Although, they would only ship it to my home address as that's the address I use for billing purposes on my wireless account so I'll still have to sort out how I'm going to arrange delivery.

I have to say, something doesn't feel right about the iPhone selling out as quickly as it did. This is the first time I ever remember getting up in the middle of the night to pre-order an Apple product. Last year, it took Apple 22 hours before iPhone 4S shipping time slipped. While I know demand was high, I have to believe that it was tempered by the midnight/3am launch in the United States. How many people, other than the uber-geeks really set their alarms to get up and pre-order the iPhone?

Now before you accuse me of being US-Centric, I realize those are more sane hours for the rest of the world to be pre-ordering. But, keep in mind there are three different versions of the iPhone available for different areas of the world. So selling out of pre-order stock in one country isn't necessarily the same as selling out in another because they should be selling different hardware. 

Selling out of pre-order stock in an hour and a half in the middle of the night seems bizarre. I find it equally hard to believe that Apple would not have enough supply available for this iPhone release. That's just not Tim Cook's style. And if the hardware wasn't available, why not push the release date another few weeks? While I know Apple wants to show huge demand for a new phone, they don't want to appear unprepared for the launch.

Perhaps Apple is intentionally trying to shift the focus to its retail stores and away from online orders, I don't know. If you want an iPhone release day, seems like your best shot now is an Apple Retail store. Get there early.