Apple Sells Out of Its First Large-Screen iPhone After Years of Resisting Phablets

Steve Jobs was wrong about going big

What's that you said, Steve Jobs? No one's going to buy that large phone? Apple's visionary founder got a lot right, but he appears to have been wrong about supersized phones. The company's first such device is on backorder for more than a month at some carriers after going on sale online today.

For years, Apple resisted developing a big-screen iPhone, failing to see the utility of a device that has trouble fitting in a pocket and can hardly be used with one hand. The market saw it differently, as rival Samsung pioneered phone-tablet hybrids—phablets—years ago, even as users faced some derision. Apple fans often made fun of people holding a giant rectangle to their heads to make a call.

Apple finally caved and this week released two iPhones that are bigger than any before them, iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. The iPhone 6 Plus is sold out at major carriers and in some cases won't ship for up to six weeks, according to Re/code. Apple said sales of both iPhones have hit record numbers after becoming available online at midnight.

Both of Apple's new phones will hit stores Sept. 19. Now, it's unclear how many iPhone 6 Pluses Apple had ready to sell. It's possible there was a failure to judge demand and too few were made.

It's a pricey phone, starting at $300 with a two-year contract. The top-end iPhone 6 Plus costs $950 without a contract.

AT&T told Re/code that demand for both iPhones is greater than the carrier has seen for any phone since the iPhone 5, two years ago.

Mobile industry observers said consumer demand for larger screen phones is only accelerating. NPD, a group that tracks the retail sector, said that two years ago only 2 percent of phones sold were 4.7 inches and larger; now 25 percent of phones are that size.

App analytics firm Flurry said 18 percent of activity detected from Android devices these days is coming from phablets, and that’s up from 7 percent a year ago.