iPad 2 demand still exceeds supply; Will international rollout continue as planned?

The iPad 2 may only be an evolutionary upgrade, but demand for Apple's next-gen device, even 5 days after launch, continues to outstrip supply. The iPad 2 launch last week began in impressive fashion and given that Apple is still having trouble filling user demand, one has to wonder if the planned international rollout will proceed as planned in a few weeks.

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The iPad 2 may only be an evolutionary upgrade, but demand for Apple's next-gen device, even 5 days after launch, continues to outstrip supply.

The iPad 2 launch last week began in impressive fashion. Lines began forming at Apple stores as early as Wednesday, and once the device went on sale on Friday, lines at a number of Apple stores became enormous. The line at Apple's retail store on 5th avenue in New York City at one point was 1,200 people strong. Across the country, in San Francisco, lines were so long that they wrapped around full city blocks. And this was all on a Friday evening, mind you. Apparently waiting in line for a new Apple product is how a lot of folks enjoy kicking off their weekends!

Other retail outlets selling the iPad 2 also experienced a wave of strong iPad 2 demand. A number of Best Buy outlets, for example, reported selling out of the device in just a few hours. By the time Sunday rolled around, many Apple Stores were completely sold out as well. And users looking to avoid the lines and place their iPad 2 orders online were greeted with 3-4 week delivery wait times. Update: iPad shipping times from Apple's online store has now been bumped up to 4-5 weeks.

Looking to keep up with demand, Apple earlier this week opened up its retail stores an hour earlier to better accomodate those searching for the iPad 2 and to help diffuse some of the commotion and overcrowding that tends to occur in the wake of a new Apple product launch. But just as quickly as Apple retail stores re-stocked their supply, users were buying them and skipping out the door. Indeed, word has it that a number of Apple Stores that received new shipments earlier this week are already sold out or on the verge of doing so.

In light of Apple's strong iPad 2 launch, some analysts expect sales from this past weekend to be far greater than the generous 500,000 projection many expected. Some even feel that Apple may very well have sold 1 million iPad 2s this past weekend alone. While Apple has remained mum on the matter, aside from an official statement explaining that iPad 2 demand has been "Amazing", the iPad 2 is already off to a stronger start than the original iPad which didn't hit the 1 million sales mark until 28 days after launch.

Only Apple, at this point, is aware of how many units they've sold, but if the 1 million sales mark has already been reached, or if it will be reached very soon, expect Apple to issue a press release indicating as much shortly thereafter.

Per usual, the iPad was released first in the US with plans to move to an international launch a few weeks later - March 25th to be exact. The overwhelming demand for the iPad 2 domestically, however, calls into question whether or not Apple's iPad 2 international launch will proceed as scheduled. The original plan called for the iPad 2 to go on sale in the following countries at the end of the month: Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.K.

One country since removed from that list is Japan, who won't be seeing the iPad 2 as planned due to the tragic earthquake and resulting Tsunami that's caused a humanitarian crisis in the country. Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris explained, "We are delaying the launch of the iPad 2 in Japan while the country and our teams focus on recovering from the recent disaster."

Remember that the popularity of the original iPad prompted Apple to delay the international launch of the device for a month. Faced with a similar problem this year, Apple will once again focus on fulfilling US orders before shipping units abroad for sale. In any event, overwhelming demand is a good problem to have all things considered.

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