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

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.
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor on

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.

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