[Originally published May 28, 2008 on Fortune.com]
Here's an intriguing report from ImportGenius, a search engine that gathers "competitive intelligence" by monitoring U.S. Customs records of ocean containers entering American ports.
Searching for shipments to Apple, Inc. (AAPL), employees at the Scottsdale, Ariz., company reported on Friday that they've spotted a "major spike" since mid March in ocean containers marked with a mysterious new label: "electric computers."
“They have never before reported this product on their customs declarations,” says ImportGenius managing director Ryan Peterson, who notes that there has been no corresponding falloff during this period of shipments labeled "desktop computers" or any of the other labels Apple usually uses.
"The fact that they are importing millions of units, combined with dwindling stocks of the first generation of iPhones," persuades Peterson that these "electric computers" are, in fact, the 3G iPhones Apple is expected to release in a matter of weeks.