Production Delays Mean iPad Inventories May Be Tight at Launch
When Apple’s new iPad slate begins to arrive at market later this month, limited availability may leave some early adopters empty-handed–assuming it goes on sale this month at all.
In a research note this morning, Canaccord Adams analyst Peter Misek says he has heard rumblings that production issues at Apple’s (AAPL) manufacturing partners may keep the company’s iPad in short supply when it first goes on sale.
“We have…heard that the upcoming iPad launch may be somewhat limited as a manufacturing bottleneck has impacted production of Apple’s newest device,” Misek writes.
“An unspecified production problem at the iPad’s manufacturer, Hon Hai Precision,” the analyst explains, “will likely limit the launch region to the US and the number of units available to roughly 300K in the month of March, far lower than the company’s initial estimate of 1,000K units.”
Looking ahead, he adds, “The delay in production ramp will likely impact Apple’s April unit estimate of 800K as well. It is also possible that, given the limited number of units available in March, the launch will be delayed for a month.”
If Misek is right–and that’s a big if; Misek’s prediction earlier this year that Apple would debut a brand new iPhone on Verizon (VZ) at its January special event proved woefully off–it’s a slight setback for Apple, which obviously wants to take good advantage of enthusiasm for the device to really blow out first-year sales. That said, since this would be only a temporary production delay, it probably wouldn’t have that much effect on sales.
Says Misek: “We believe that the only material impact from the iPad delay could come in the form of frustrated consumers and some modest loss of lustre for the company’s product launch.” He figures Apple will sell 550,000 units in its third quarter, which ends in June, 1.2 million in fiscal year 2010 and 3.5 million in 2011.