Citing the strong demand for iPad tablets in the United States during its first week of sales, Apple announced it made the “difficult decision” to postpone the touch screen device’s international launch date by a month. The iPad is now expected to launch in several European countries, the U.K., Australia, Canada and Japan at the end of May. Apple also noted it sold more than 500,000 iPads since the gadget went on sale a week ago and said demand is “far higher” than they expected. “[We] will likely continue to exceed our supply over the next several weeks as more people see and touch an iPad,” a company statement warned. “We have also taken a large number of preorders for iPad 3G models for delivery by the end of April.”
Apple said it would announce international pricing and begin taking online preorders on May 10 and acknowledged many international customers waiting to buy an iPad would be disappointed by the news. Ian Blanton, a director at Tech Superpowers, an Apple care specialist and reseller with offices in Boston and London, said based on his experience in the London office, demand in the U.K. is high. “While I was in London one of the clients I was working with showed up with an iPad. My jaw hit the ground-I still don’t know how they got it,” he said. “The fact that somebody had one in London three days after they came out in the U.S. suggests there’s a pretty high level of demand.”
While Apple fanatics around the world are likely to be disappointed by the iPad release’s postponement, Blanton said Apple’s history suggests if it moves the launch date back once, they make sure to hit it the next time. “People will accept you moving the field post once-Apple doesn’t take people for granted in that,” he said. “Except for the rabid people who will complain for any reason, this isn’t going to hurt the launch.”
In fact, after Apple’s successful staging of the U.S. launch, Blanton said the company has every reason to treat an international launch with equal care. “Apple is probably seeing a strong demand in the United States alone and is rethinking how many they have for the international market,” he explained. “It’s a matter of getting that perfect launch. You don’t want to look like a fool– you want to hold off until you can fulfill a certain number of orders. After having the U.S. launch under their belt, everyone’s going to expect them to have known [about potential demand] at this point.”
There is evidence to suggest that demand is likely to be sustained for some time. A recent survey of 2,500 consumers by financial services firm Morgan Stanley found interest in the iPad is high-about a fifth of respondents said they were “somewhat” or “extremely” interested in purchasing an iPad. Based on the results of the survey, analyst Katy Huberty predicted Apple could sell 6 million iPads in 2010 and roughly 7 million in the first year. The AlphaWise study also noted the iPad boasts broad appeal, with 47 percent of those surveyed falling into the high earners (making more than $90,000 a year) category.