Does an iPad Shortage Loom?

Analyst notes troubles with one of Apple's manufacturing partners may mean a limited supply or even a possible delay in availability of the new iPad.

Apple gained plenty of publicity for its new iPad, but at least one analyst thinks the company could come up short in meeting demand when the device ships later this month.

A research note issued on Monday from Canadian financial advisory firm Canaccord Adams warns the iPad may be in short supply when it first ships. Analyst Peter Misek wrote of rumors that there have been "production issues" at Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) manufacturing partner in China.

"An unspecified production problem at the iPad's manufacturer, Hon Hai Precision 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," he wrote.

He estimates that a delay would also impact April projections, and raises the specter that Apple might delay the launch by a month if there are a limited number of units available in March.

If this is the case, it's a rough launch for Apple. But there is a chance he's wrong. Misek's last big predictions -- that Apple would debut a new iPhone for Verizon Wireless at the January special event where the iPad was introduced -- proved a major misfire. Misek was unavailable for comment and Apple has a long-standing policy of not commenting on rumors and its product release plans.

Misek is sticking with the rumor, though. He addressed the Verizon prediction in his latest report noting "our expected Verizon iPhone launch looks like it will be delayed until FY2011."

Pent-up iPad demand?

The good news for Apple is there is healthy interest in the iPad, despite the initial complaining about the device. An RBC/ChangeWave survey of 3,200 people found there is higher interest in the iPad now than there was for the iPhone just before its launch.

ChangeWave found 13 percent of those surveyed said they might be interested in buying an iPad. That's better than the 9 percent who said they were keen on the iPhone just before the 2007 launch.

The differentiator is the price. The iPhone launched at $599, while the iPad, a more advanced device, with the rich App Store ecosystem and an audience now conditioned to using it thanks to the iPhone, launches at $499. Around 28 percent of the people surveyed in 2007 said the iPhone was too expensive while only 8 percent said the same about the iPad.

Apple has not set a launch date yet. At the introduction, CEO Steve Jobs said it would be available within 60 days of launch, which would be the end of this month.

Andy Patrizio is a senior editor at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

Tags: iPhone, iphone apps, iPad, Apple, app store

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