iPad 2 shortages continue, relief 1-2 months away

'Apple misread demand,' says one analyst

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iSuppli anticipated early shortages of the iPad 2, Alexander added. "When we heard that there were going to be just 100 iPad 2s per store, we knew there was going to be a problem."

Alexander expects that iPad 2 supplies will match demand in the next month or two. "Overall, I think Apple has its ducks well in a row on this."

Shortages at retail stores that received new shipments of iPad 2s today also continued, according to Brian White, an analyst with Ticonderoga Securities.

Lines at Apple stores in both New York City and San Francisco were long earlier today, and Apple handed out tickets to some of those waiting, telling them it was unlikely they would be able to buy an iPad 2, said White in a research note to clients.

"In New York City, three of the four stores already sold out of the iPad 2 in the first couple of hours this morning," said White. "In San Francisco, only one of the three stores received iPad 2 shipments this morning."

But while Marshall and Alexander credited a huge demand for the iPad 2 shortage, another expert disagreed.

"It kind of says that Apple misread demand," said Stephen Baker, an analyst with retail research firm NPD Group. "But then, everybody misread demand. This was an incremental product change [from the original iPad], and so we all probably missed this one. The market for this category has expanded dramatically, and interest in tablets is way up, whether [the iPad 2] is incremental or not."

The situation in Japan will probably not impact Apple, at least in the short term, said Marshall. In Japan, it's mostly about flash RAM, but Apple has a tremendous short-term inventory [of that]," he said.

Although spot prices of flash memory, also called NAND memory, have climbed since last Friday's magnitude 9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami, Toshiba, one of the world's biggest flash memory suppliers, has said that none of its memory factories were affected.

Marshall said it's difficult to read clues from Apple's silence on iPad 2 sales; the company typically trumpets numbers, especially early in a product's cycle, such as it did last year when it boasted that it had sold 300,000 iPads the first day of sales.

"It is a bit strange" that Apple hasn't released iPad 2 sales numbers, Marshall said. "Companies always like to talk about good news."

Previously, Apple promised to start selling the iPad 2 in 26 additional counties on March 25, but at least one expert is questioning that timeline. "The iPad 2...has clearly been met with overwhelming demand, which makes us wonder if Apple will have enough supply for the international launch on March 25," said White.

According to Reuters, Apple has postponed the iPad 2 launch in Japan. "We are delaying the launch of the iPad 2 in Japan while the country and our teams focus on recovering from the recent disaster," Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris told the news service.

She denied that the decision to delay sales in Japan was connected to component supply shortages.

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

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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