Apple's Sales Have Grown So Much That It's Running Out of 10-Digit Invoice Numbers

Discussion in 'iOS Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Mar 23, 2018.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Currently, when Apple sends an invoice to its customers and business partners, the recipient gets an invoice number that is entirely numeric and spans 10 digits.

    According to a post on Reddit citing a letter from Apple called "Change in Invoice number format," the company has drafted so many invoices that it's close to going through all possible permutations for these 10-digit numeric codes, necessitating a switch to an alphanumeric system.

    This means that instead of a basic 10-digit number, Apple's system will now include two alphabet characters followed by eight numbers, for example: "AB12345678." These changes will begin applying to all invoices issued "approximately after the third week of February 2019."


    As explained in the Reddit thread on the topic, there are a total of 10 billion possible invoice numbers available to Apple through its current 10-digit all-numeric system, suggesting Apple is nearing 10 billion invoices sent worldwide for as long as it's used this system. Apple sends an invoice every time an order is made on the Apple Store app, website, or in-store, with each order receiving a unique invoice code.

    When adding in two letters to the beginning, Apple's invoice code possibilities increase to around 67.6 billion. Redditor nalexander50 explained the math in greater detail:
    With yesterday's update to the Apple Store iOS app, the company also made it possible to get to your order invoices from within the app. To do so follow these instructions: open the app, tap the circular profile symbol at the top right of the Discover tab, scroll down to My Orders, tap on one, tap Print Invoice, then sign in to your Apple ID. On the invoice, the invoice number is located in the Additional Information section at the very bottom of the page.

    Article Link: Apple's Sales Have Grown So Much That It's Running Out of 10-Digit Invoice Numbers
  2. jsmith189 macrumors 65816


    Jan 12, 2014
  3. markfc macrumors 6502a


    Sep 18, 2006
    Prestatyn, Wales, UK
    Hang on, if they send an invoice with every App Store purchase, how have they not hit this sooner?

    Mathematically it doesn’t make sense?
  4. iPhysicist macrumors 65816


    Nov 9, 2009
    Just make it Hex. Problem solved for a long time. Maybe even think of adding a digit - insane thought I know.
  5. duervo macrumors 68020


    Feb 5, 2011
    Apple Store app, not App Store.
  6. Secondempire macrumors member


    Oct 27, 2017
    This is about the Apple Store, not App Store. Apple Store is where they sell physical goods.
  7. Rudy69 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 30, 2009
    App Store orders are different and use a different system.
  8. manu chao, Mar 23, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2018

    manu chao macrumors 603

    Jul 30, 2003
    Not quite, its 26 * 26 * 10 billion = 6.76 trillion.

    EDIT: I misread the original statement as 10 digits + two letters. In fact it says two letters + 8 digits.
  9. I7guy macrumors P6


    Nov 30, 2013
    Gotta be in it to win it
    This is quite the first world problem to have.o_O
  10. Gyroworld macrumors member

    Apr 19, 2016
    It's actually just a math problem
    --- Post Merged, Mar 23, 2018 ---
    That is incorrect.

    It's 26^2 * 10^8 not 26^2 * 10^10.

    67.6 billion is correct.
  11. 4jasontv macrumors 65816

    Jul 31, 2011
    I don’t think this is the first problem the world has ever had. For one thing it’s not really a problem because they seem to have avoided any issues. Secondly, if it was an issue, most people would not have been involved. Third, disease and famine are problems that impact most of the world, and they seem to have existed prior to this.

  12. whooleytoo macrumors 604


    Aug 2, 2002
    Cork, Ireland.
    It's funny, I'd have thought just adding more numeric digits would be easier.

    Add an extra digit or two, and partners might be ok without any change (worst case scenarios is they might have to increase the size/length of their numeric fields in code and the UI), but changing to alphanumeric means the order number needs to be handled as a string, which requires the storage and any queries to be changed.

    Anyway, nice problem to have! I wonder if it's truly indicative of the number of orders, since I'd imagine few companies start with order '00000000001', most probably pad their starting order number.
  13. manu chao macrumors 603

    Jul 30, 2003
    Ok, that was misreading the original statement as two letters + 10 digits.
  14. npmacuser5 macrumors 65816


    Apr 10, 2015
    Wonder how they will manage? Just the opposite here, running out of check numbers!:(
  15. shareef777 macrumors 68020


    Jul 26, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    That begs the question of why not use alphanumeric for all 10 positions?
  16. eagle33199 macrumors member

    Mar 13, 2007
    I don't think you understand what the phrase "first world problem" actually means...
  17. FelixDerKater Contributor


    Apr 12, 2002
    Nirgendwo in Amerika
  18. coolfactor macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2002
    Vancouver, BC CANADA
    They'd probably skip a few letters, or would be wise to — I and O are two that can be mistaken for numbers.
  19. Marekul macrumors regular

    Jan 2, 2018
    Longer invoice number messes up layouts in print and web, also probability of a wrong digit increases with number of digits. String vs internet representation doesn’t make a lot difference in backend maybe a Little refactoring here and there.... but you rarely do operations on invoice numbers...
  20. Saipher macrumors demi-god


    Oct 25, 2014
  21. duervo, Mar 23, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2018

    duervo macrumors 68020


    Feb 5, 2011
    They aren’t gonna “run out”. Unless they’re totally incompetent, there’s most likely a system already in place to switch over to a different one with alphanumeric characters in an invoice number.
  22. belvdr macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2005
    No longer logging into MR
    I don't think you understand what "/s" means. ;) (Hint: it is sarcasm)
  23. nvmls macrumors 6502a


    Mar 31, 2011
  24. Apple blogger macrumors 6502a

    Feb 28, 2013
    Why couldn’t they just add a “year” after the invoices and begin again each year.. for eg. 1234567890-2018 1234567890-2019

    I think “we built it from the ground up” applied here too...

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