Customers who order an iPad 2 via Apple's online store will need to wait between four to five weeks for their tablet to arrive.
While Apple has not yet released official sales figures for the iPad 2's first weekend of release, a selected number of analysts feel the company will sell between 500,000 and 600,000 of the next-generation tablets. In a March 8 research note, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster predicted that the tablet will sell 1 million units faster than its first-generation predecessor, which took 28 days to reach that mark. Part of the reason for the quicker sales, he argued, is the iPad's availability at a broader collection of retail stores.
On March 14, the iPad 2's first day of wide release, eWEEK toured three Apple stores in Manhattan and found similarly long lines at each. Across the country, Apple's retail partners-including Best Buy, Walmart, Target, AT&T and Verizon-reported shortages and outright sellouts of the tablet.
Heading midway into its first week of release, Apple repeatedly pushed back the expected shipping date for online iPad 2 sales, from two to three weeks to nearly twice as long. Whether by intention or genuine inability to deal with a flood of orders, other Apple products have endured similar delays and pushbacks in launches past. Apple's iPhone 4, for example, led to a meltdown of both Apple's and AT&T's ordering systems on the first day of presales, followed by the pushback of the preorder shipment date.
The iPhone 4 sold some 1.7 million units in the smartphone's first day of release. "My phone is ringing off the hook for people who want more supply," Apple COO Tim Cook told analysts and investors listening to the company's July 2010 earnings call. "We're selling everything we can make." That suggested to some pundits that demand had strained Apple's manufacturing capacity.
Research firm IDC recently suggested that Apple's share of the tablet market declined from 93 percent in the third quarter of 2010 to 73 percent in the fourth quarter. Despite the presence of more competitors in the space, including the high-end Motorola Xoom, IDC expects that Apple will manage to maintain a 70 percent to 80 percent share of the tablet market in 2011. A tide of new iPad owners could help make that happen, provided Apple continues to manufacture devices at a rate to match demand.
Meanwhile, Apple announced that it had halted the iPad 2's scheduled rollout in Japan, following the earthquake and tsunami that flattened wide swaths of that country and precipitated a meltdown crisis at one of its nuclear power plants. The iPad 2 had originally been scheduled to arrive on Japanese store shelves March 25. According to the Wall Street Journal, the company has not announced a new release date.