Apple delivery times

Just out of curiosity: does anyone here knows what’s behind the delivery times of Apple hardware?

If e.g. I’d order a Mac Mini other than the base model, the delivery time is currently standard 2 weeks. Which would imho mean they have nothing in stock and get new stock every single day. Sounds weird.

If on the other hand I’d order a Dell XPS 15 laptop (just an as example), I’m getting it most of the time within 2-3 working days. No matter the configuration of the machine.

Especially with Apple Silicon there isn’t much to configure for Apple I’d think. I mean, it’s all tightly integrated. And they have the machine or not.

Long story short, I’m a bit surprised why it always takes 2 weeks (or more, in case of e.g. a Mac Studio) to deliver a new Mac, other than the base model.

In short, based on all of the available options, there are 80 different hardware configurations of the Mac Mini which could be ordered. It is not reasonable for Apple to stock a large supply of all 80 possible configurations. Therefore, most possible configurations are custom built when ordered with only a few common configurations kept in stock (presumably the 3 base configurations listed are the ones kept in stock).

And as a reminder, the various hardware options are soldered in permanently. They are not just snapping in a different card. In other words, once a system is built, it cannot be changed. So if they were to build a bunch of systems to a certain spec and it turns out almost no one ever orders that specific set of options, now they are stuck with a bunch of machines that can’t sell. This is probably the biggest contributing factor for the difference with your Dell counter example.

How did I arrive at 80 posable configurations. On their online store we see three different base models, each with different possible customization options. The first model has 3 memory options, 4 storage options and 2 ethernet options for a total of 24 permutations. The second model has 3 memory options, 3 storage options and 2 ethernet options for a total of 16 permutations. The third model has 2 CPU options, 2 memory options, 5 storage options and 2 ethernet options for a total of 40 permutations. Add those up (24 + 16 + 40) and we get 80 possible systems. For completeness, I should state that it is possible that some of the combinations are not actually possible as I didn’t go through and try to select all 80 combinations. However, even if some of the combinations are blocked, the total number is certainly closer to 80 than 3.


Apple work really hard to minimise their stock, they also know that 1) if you desperately want one and can get to one, there’s a chance something is in stock in an Apple Store. And 2) You’re unlikely to buy something else instead

With Dell, if they don’t have what you want, you can go to someone else and buy something similar.


We order all our Dell laptops on state contract. As of today, the earliest delivery date for a laptop on our contract is 17 days (two weeks from this coming Monday). Some have longer lead times, especially if you customize.

Very much this. My friends who use PCs are not typically brand loyal, and are more interested in getting the best price. Gamers might be the exception, of course.

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Couple of things. Firstly, like I said in my initial post, I asked this question out of curiosity. Not to compare Apple directly to Dell. Dell was mentioned as an example of another large computer manufacturer that does B2C.

Sure, there might be 80 possible configurations of any give type of Mac. However, some options are way more likely to get ordered than others. Let’s take – as an example! – the base model Mac Mini M2. With 8GB memory you can pick it up immediately at the Apple Store here (NL). Only(!) increasing the memory to a quite regular 16GB – and there is really nothing exotic about 16GB RAM these days – or increasing the SSD size to a still meager 512GB, increases the delivery time with 8 days. That’s not, I guess, because they’re waiting for a container of these models to arrive from China. Because, when I order this machine the next day, the delivery time is still 8 days from the time of ordering. It just always takes 8 days (or whatever number it is for that particular model). Is it really that from the time I order this machine some people at Foxconn start assembling this machine and only then ship it to Apple Europe which in turn ships it to me?

It’s the always x days from the time of ordering that amazes me. And like I mentioned, that’s not (just) for highly unlikely or unpopular configurations. It’s for just about everything other than the base models.

Even though some people here seem to think that Apple’s products are so special that this weird supply chain is justified, I think it’s strange that there appears to be no stock at all. At least not for anything but the base products (which are, honestly, a laugh these days - 8GB/256GB SSD, come on!).

A state contract is a completely different thing than B2C, btw.

@SpivR: “or more, in case of e.g. a Mac Studio”

One final thought: people cannot or will not always wait so long. I worked with a developer who needed 64GB of RAM.They only noticed that when he started his job. Every day he was waiting for his new MBP meant he couldn’t be productive. As simple as that.

When I bought my M1 MacBook Air (16GB memory 1TB storage), it was in stock at an Apple store in Minnesota. Walked in with a 15-inch Intel MBP that needed to be sent out for repair and walked out with a well-spec’d MacBook Air. (Of course this is only one data point.)

I don’t think anyone said it’s justified, we were simply stating our understanding of how Apple’s Supply chain works and why.

If people were walking away from Apple devices, then Apple would change things. Yes, people have particular and timely needs (note the and, not an or), but as a percentage of Apple’s market it’ll be so far out of the ordinary that it’s a rounding error.

If people don’t want to or can’t wait they have to make alternative arrangements, whatever they may be.
If people can’t fulfil their particular needs off the shelf, they have to choose whether to wait or make alternative arrangements.

Apple is being up front and open at the point of sale on the expected wait time, Apple also regularly under promises but then delivers earlier than quoted.

Nothing is wrong here, but a company of this size will not and cannot justify keeping 3 of everything available in every store and available online, it’s value of stock would be enormous and it’s shareholders would rightly ask questions.

That’s the other thing though - I don’t think Apple moves any inventory to mail-order from stores. I would wager they initially build some of the models with different specs, and they mostly go out to retail stores. But Apple isn’t going to call my local store and say “ship that Macbook to Dave in Florida”. They’re just going to build a new one.

The other possibility is that they do have pre-built stock, but not distributed.

I have no idea if this is the case, but walk through it with me for a minute. Let’s say that Apple has 8 fulfillment centers in the United States. Those warehouses each have some of the “base” configurations, and the regionality lets them get “next day” shipments out cost-effectively. But the “non-base” configurations are all warehoused somewhere less central (possibly even at someplace like Foxconn), so it takes longer to move them from the origin to you.

In that scenario, they could have a limited buffer of the custom configs - it would just be a matter of the shipping timeframes. And those are kind of insane these days depending on a whole bunch of things outside Apple’s control.

Other than the cost of having the produced inventory sitting there (not trivial, but at Apple’s scale probably not that insane) the biggest risk they’d have is not selling some of them - and the odds are good they could market them as refurb for $200 off and unload them if it came to that.

I have no idea whether this is the case - just speculating.

…but not if you get 16 GB RAM AND 512GB SSD. That’s a “stock” configuration. I can pick that up today at my local Apple Store.

I’m guessing that the majority of people in your hypothetical situation are happy to get the 16/512 model and call it good. And for those who don’t, Apple will custom build whatever they want. :slight_smile:

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If you had gone to Apple online and tried to order this configuration and pick up at the Apple Store in Minnesota, they would have told you it would not be available for pick up that day. You have to go to the brick and mortar (and glass, lots of glass) Apple Store and ask if they have your desired configuration. It seems that the Apple Stores get some models with popular configurations. It’s hit and miss but doesn’t hurt to ask.

That’s what I did. And I was told initially that they didn’t have what I wanted. But when it became clear I was turning in a 16GB 1TB MBP to send to Apple for repair and was willing to buy outright a MBA of the same configuration, suddenly a different person found one in the back.

Same thing happened when I bought my last truck. End of model year and the salesman had two trucks that were not what I asked for going in. Still I took a test drive with him in one, dickered some more, and said I was walking away. Salesman went back to “talk to the Sales Manager” and after an appropriately long time, came back and said they had found a model like the one I wanted. Sheesh!

Another possible scenario here is that “x days” is their upper estimate. Once the order goes through the system, I have often gotten shipping updates with an earlier estimated delivery date than when I placed the order. Actual delivery has more closely matched the most recent update.

From a customer experience PoV, this makes good sense. You have already accepted the “x days”, and then you’ll be positively surprised when your order shows up earlier. Also, it might give Apple some slack to handle unexpected delays, and still get your order delivered on time.