Apple is reportedly having difficulty keeping units of its newly-anointed 13-in. MacBook Pro laptop computer in stock as it enters the middle of the back-to-school buying season.
In a note to clients on Tuesday, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster noted that the online Apple Store is, for the moment, reflecting lead times of seven to 10 business days for the faster, 2.53GHz 13-inch Macbook Pro model.
(The 2.53GHz model starts at $1,499. The other 13-inch Pro has a 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and starts at $1,199.)
This is the most extensive delay for the company's 13-inch notebooks in history, Munster wrote.
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Munster, who regularly tracks lead times for Apple products, wrote that he had to look back more than two years into his records to find comparable delays -- and even then, what he found only spanned five to seven business days.
The entry-level 15-inch MacBook Pro, which also uses the 2.53GHz processor, also reflects delays.
Munster wrote that he placed calls to 10 Apple retail stores and found that seven of them were short at least one of the two 13-inch models.
"We see this as a sign that demand is outpacing the company's build expectations, and it may take several weeks to reach a supply demand equilibrium," Munster wrote.
Why the shortage? Simple: Apple's recent release of the notebooks, which are an update to the first aluminum unibody models released in 2008, coincides with its annual back-to-school promotion that offers students a free iPod touch with the purchase of a new Mac.
Combine the excitement over newer, cheaper MacBook Pro computers with students and graduates in need of them -- plus an iPod touch -- and you've got a potent new consumer base that otherwise might not have sprung for a new (Apple) computer.
Munster also provided insight into iPhone 3G S sales, which he confirms may be selling ahead of Apple's expectations, meeting (or beating) iPhone 3G launch sales in just eight countries, compared to the iPhone 3G's 21 nations.
"While Apple has indicated the 3GS launch was as good as the 3G launch a year earlier (both reached 1m units), AT&T has indicated that the June 2009 launch was its best-ever retail sales day and the largest order day in att.com history and (i.e. an improvement from the iPhone 3G)."
Munster wrote that he is confident that Apple will report sales of 2.2 million Mac systems for the June quarter when it announces results later this month. That compares to almost 2.5 million Macs sold during the same quarter one year ago.