Are supplies of the iPad 2 finally starting to get closer to demand?
Customers who buy the new tablet through Apple's online store now have to wait just one to two weeks before it ships. The new estimate follows a roller coaster ride that started with an initial and short-lived wait time of only three to five days before hitting a high of four to five weeks not long after after the iPad 2 made its debut.
But over the past month, the ship time has gradually decreased, reaching three to four weeks in late March and then two to three weeks earlier this month.
Discussing Apple's second-quarter earnings yesterday, COO Tim Cook said the company was continuing to make a larger number of iPads to reach the "staggering" demand but couldn't say when supply would catch up with that demand.
"We sold every iPad 2 we could make and the demand was stunning," Apple Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer told Reuters in an interview.
Second-quarter unit sales of the iPad (both the original and the iPad 2) came in at 4.69 million, lower than many analysts had forecast. Some had been expecting Apple to sell as many as 9 million tablets for the quarter, though the average forecast among analysts polled by Fortune had called for sales of 6 million.
J.P. Morgan analyst Mark Moskowitz had lowered his quarterly estimate for the iPad last week to 5.4 million units from 6 million previously. Moskowitz told CNET in a recent interview that Apple has faced difficulty in the past keeping up with demand for other devices, such as the iPhone.
Ramping up the iPad 2 was more challenging, according to Moskowitz, because some of its new features were based on new types of components that couldn't yet be manufactured fast enough. Beyond that, Apple likely just failed to anticipate the overwhelming demand, the analyst added.
However, Moskowitz believes that the lower-than-expected sales of the iPad had more to do with timing than demand, pointing to Apple's statement that it's facing the "mother of all backlogs" and is now working to bump up supply. Looking at the full calendar year 2011, the analyst recently upped his forecast for iPad unit sales to 31.1 million from 29.1 million previously.
Apple will launch the iPad 2 in 13 more countries next week and expand the tablet's market further through the third quarter of the year.