Apple iPad: Is international shortage the result of success? I'm not so sure

Apple iPad: Is international shortage the result of success? I'm not so sure

Summary: Apple says it's facing a shortage of iPads for the international market in the wake of a "successful" launch in the U.S. But I'm not buying it.

TOPICS: Apple, iPad, Mobility

Special Report: Apple iPad

Apple admitted on Wednesday that it is facing a shortage of iPad tablet computers for the international market in the wake of a "successful" launch in the U.S., to the tune of 500,000 units shipped.

The company said in a statement:

Although we have delivered more than 500,000 iPads during its first week, demand is far higher than we predicted and will likely continue to exceed our supply over the next several weeks.

But I'm not buying it, at least from a completely anecdotal, wholly unscientific test.

I've stopped into several Apple stories here in New York since the launch of the iPad, and there was no shortage of units available.

I've also been told by associates that they had no problem getting their hands on one (and faced nothing that could be called a 'crowd' by any stretch) in a few other cities -- San Francisco, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and so forth.

And what perhaps bothers me the most is that I've spotted exactly one iPad on the streets of New York, in the hands of a twentysomething representative of an Internet company.

But I've seen a lot of Amazon Kindles. As they say, if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck...

There are two issues at hand here:

The first issue is that it's unclear that there truly is overwhelming demand for the iPad -- enough that it exceeded Apple's internal estimates and, by extension, tapped out its supply chain.

I strongly doubt Apple gave itself too aggressive targets. What this appears to me is that the company is having supply chain issues and can't meet existing demand -- which may very well be below internal targets for the device.

Second, what defines success for the iPad? Three hundred thousand units? Five hundred thousand? A million? There is no historical comparison for this device to base estimates -- nothing that even comes close. It's an anomaly.

Apple, then, is shooting in the dark as much as we are when it comes to statistically determining what can be defined as a "success." It's whatever Apple says it is. Which means the spin machine keeps on churning.

(Were you expecting Apple to say the iPad didn't meet expectations? It has no good business reason to say such a thing.)

I think the iPad is a fine device and will do well for Apple in the long-term. But my gut's telling me that it's taking people a lot more time to warm up to it (and the new market niche it has created) than we, and perhaps Apple, could have hoped.

Seen any iPads in your local area? Tell us the situation in TalkBack.

Topics: Apple, iPad, Mobility

Andrew Nusca

About Andrew Nusca

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. During his tenure, he was the editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation.

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  • Kindle

    Funny, I've never seen a Kindle in the wild.
    Mike Cohen
    • me neither

      and i never heard sales numbers from amazon.
      • Maybe you need to look closer

        On over 12 flights I've been in this year, I've
        seen more than one kindle, even on the smaller
        commuter planes.

        Monday trip from Chicago to Springfield MO had 3
        on board.

        About 7 people had iPhones, most had
        BlackBerries and 6 of us had Android phones.

        At Ohare those with Android devices surfed the
        web on their laptops no sweat. Those with Black
        Berries and iPhones fiddled with Boingo
        • PALM resurrects the foleo? (renamed)

          Hmmm...WebOS was designed for this. And palm had previous plans that were canceled.

        • You forgot to sign your name, Sergey

          You really should take credit for trenchant posts like this, Mr. Brin.
      • Seen some on the train

        On a recent trip to Milwuakee via Amtrak, I saw at least 5 Kindle users on the train and in Union Station (Chicago). They're out there.
        silent E
      • Not me either...

        I haven't seen a real-life Kindle anywhere. I have
        seen some Sony PRS500s though... (not counting
        • Look Around

          I fly very frequently and I see a significant number of people with Kindles or other similiar devices.

          BB, iPhones and Androids are a very visible also.

          Walking around the airport awaiting boarding, kindles, while not extermely numerous, are in visible use in most gate waiting areas.

          [i]As a side note, I have visited two different Best Buys recently (Ca and PA) and both had the 32/64 iPad available.[/i]
      • You need to look to see.

        I have yet to see an iPad, but I have seen a few Kindles.

        You have to look for them in order to see them.
    • Amazon has never fessed up

      Amazon has never fessed up to the Kindle sales.
      • Which is pretty much a guarantee that they

        aren't selling all that many. You brag up your big sellers.
        • Which would explain why Apple never

          breaks out actuall sales figures of certain specific product lines, or why they do group them together for earnings reports.

          This way an exact number can not be nailed down.
    • Kindles

      In the past month or so, I've been seeing more and more Kindles on the subway in NYC. I've had mine for a year and for most of that time, people seeing me use it have treated it like a novelty item. But now it's definitely becoming more prevalent on trains, planes and parks here FWIW. MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
      • I've seen quite a few Kindles around.

        But the Kindle has been out for 2-1/2 years and i didn't see any for a
        long time after it was first released. It took a while for momentum to
        build. On the same note, I wouldn't judge the success of the iPad on
        whether some ZDnet poster has personally seen one in the first week of
        it's release.
        • Now you've done it.. What with being fair and reasonable.

          Pagan jim
          James Quinn
          • Truly...

            This site is going to shi*.
    • Me neither

      I've never even seen one in a locked case.

      Regardless, the Kindle is an overpriced one-trick pony.
    • Funny...

      I use my Kindle daily. It is quite an awesome device. I have it out at lunchtime a lot, however it is a device which you don't just have on you most of the time. It is carried in a backpack for it isn't apparent that it is with me. I suspect that is the case for most of them. I do see people in the park with Kindles on occasion. It is a truly mobile device since it has unlimited 3G access, you don't have to visit a hotspot to add content.

      I have only seen 2 or 3 iPhones in the wild...while I have seen many, many iPod Touches in the wild. I have seen zero iPads in the wild, and don't even know anyone who has bought one. They had plenty of them in the Apple Store where I was playing with one on display. I

      What I see in the wild most often? Blackberries. They are everywhere, it seems like everyone has one. Some form of Blackberry, and that LG Touch screen phone. I even see quite a few BB Storms daily... but hardly ever an iPhone.

      I will say this
      • anecdotal

        well that goes to show that anecdotal evidence doesn't mean anything
        because we all have different sightings. all around me all people have
        iphones, not one has a blackberry.
    • I've never seen a Kindle either

      and only one Android phone. Hard to even count the number of iPhones and iPod touches I've seen.