Updated: October 26, 2012 6:09AM
SAN FRANCISCO — A mosh pit of fans scrambling for the iPhone 5 snapped up a record 5 million units in the U.S., Apple announced Monday, and the smartphone was sold out almost everywhere.
Meanwhile, riots and brawling at a partner electronics factory in China led to a one-day suspension of work there. The cause of the clash, which erupted in a nearby dormitory among 2,000 workers, was unknown. But the closure of the plant by Foxconn Technology Group, while unknown whether it builds iPhones, raises further questions about Apple’s ability to meet customer demands. The factory was expected to open on Tuesday.
Apple has struggled to keep up with iPhone 5 demand. It goes on sale in 22 more countries Friday. “While we have sold out of our initial supply, stores continue to receive iPhone 5 shipments regularly, and customers can continue to order online and receive an estimated delivery date,” CEO Tim Cook said in a statement.
Apple declined to comment on the issues at Foxconn, and the Chinese company did not respond to requests for comment.
Supplies of iPhones at Apple Stores around the U.S. have run thin, and online orders ship in three to four weeks. San Francisco’s downtown store had no models available on Monday. Fourteen out of 20 stores surveyed across the nation were sold out over the weekend, according to Piper Jaffray.
Tight supplies come after Apple sold more than 4 million iPhone 4S models last year in three days and faced ramped-up expectations for as many as 10 million to be sold in the same period this time around, according to Piper Jaffray forecasts.
“I feel like anything is going to cause a supply problem, whether it’s the Foxconn riot or litigation with Samsung,” Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster says.
Supply issues aside, Apple is under heavy criticism among users about its Maps app, which displaced Google Maps. Some owners of older iPhone models have delayed downloading the new iOS 6 operating system that Apple made available last week. “I am afraid to upgrade my iPhone because I hear the Apple Maps suck. True?” Howard Blackson, an urban designer in San Diego, wrote on Twitter.
Rivalry between Apple and Google has intensified with the exclusion of Google’s Maps and its YouTube service as preloaded apps on the iPhone 5. Shares of Apple traded 1.3 percent lower to close at $690.79, while Google’s stock rose 2.1 percent to $749.38.