Question of the Day: Is Jobs Using ‘Scarcity Illusion’ to juice iPhone2 debut?

We’ve written previously about Harvard marketing guru John Quelch’s research into how companies deliberately create an “illusion of scarcity” to elevate product successes and profits. See, How to use the ‘Scarcity Illusion’ to boost your launch.

For a while now people have been writing about the perceived scarcity of iPhones. Earlier this week Om conducted a reportorial gut check, and determined–once and for all–that there is a shortage of iPhones nationwide. See, There *Really* Is A Coast To Coast iPhone Shortage.

The bigger quandry now is whether this is a production/supply chain problem at Apple, or a deliberate marketing strategy to keep the perceived value of the iPhone artificially high (even if it naturally would be very darned high!)

Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster thinks the latter (for the record, so do I), and that Jobs’ may be using scarcity to lay the groundwork for a successful debut of iPhone2. According to Barron’s, “Munster figures there is an 80% chance that a new iPhone is coming earlier than expected; he sees a 20% chance that there is a production or manufacturing issue with the phone.”

So this forms our Question of the Day:

* Is Jobs using the “Scarcity Illusion” to boost iPhone sales, or an iPhone2 debut?

* What effect does this strategy have on you as an Apple consumer? (Like it, or hate it?)

* Would you emulate this strategy at your startup, or does it risk alienating customers too much?

For more from Prof. John A. Quelch, including how you can use his “Scarcity Illusion” at your startup, see this Sept. 2007 essay, How to Profit from Scarcity, originally published in in Harvard’s Working Knowledge.