Apple improves Retina MacBook Pro shipping times

Now shipping 2-3 weeks after orders placed, improving on earlier 3-4 week delay

Apple's Retina MacBook Pro is now shipping faster to online customers, according to the company's e-stores for the U.S., Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan and several other countries.

The higher-resolution notebook now shows shipping delays of two to three weeks after ordering, a shortening of the three-to-four-week delay customers have dealt with almost from the moment Apple introduced the laptop a month ago.

Checks at Apple's online outlets in Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America and South America turned up the change in Retina MacBook Pro shipping times. The Apple enthusiast blog 9to5Mac.com first reported the notebook's new status today.

Apple unveiled the Retina MacBook Pro, a 15-in. notebook that starts at $2,199, on June 11 at its annual developers conference. By early June 12, the online store's shipping status indicator had shifted to "2-3 weeks," showing that Apple had exhausted its initial supply. Later that day the marker changed to "3-4 weeks," where it remained until today.

Changes in Apple's online store's shipping delay status is regularly interpreted as indicating increased inventory, decreased demand or a move toward a balance between supply and demand.

The MacBook Pro configurations sans the Retina-style screen show "In Stock" for shipping, meaning that they will be shipped shortly after ordering, sometimes the same day of the order.

Apple refreshed its entire laptop line last month, boosting RAM and storage space, and transitioning to Intel's "Ivy Bridge" line of dual- and quad-core processors.

Many analysts believe that Apple will expand the Retina display to other MacBook Pro models, including the lower-priced 13-in. notebooks, later this year, and that it will also transition the MacBook Air to the higher-resolution screens.

Apple will disclose Mac sales figures for the second quarter during its earnings call with Wall Street analysts on July 24. Historically, the company does not break out sales of individual models in its laptop lines; the exceptions are when it reports what it believes are impressive figures.

Research firm IDC said this week that it expects Apple to post U.S. Mac unit sales numbers that will be lower than the same period a year ago. Rival Gartner, however, disagreed, saying that U.S. Mac sales would be about 4% higher than the second quarter of 2011.

MacBook Pro shipping times
Apple's online stores in markets around the world now show shorter delays between ordering and shipping a Retina MacBook Pro.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

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