iPad 2 Supply Runs Short Of Demand Ever since the iPad 2 launch, American consumers have had trouble walking into a store to buy it. Every morning, Apple stores open early and potential customers wait outside. How long can these lines continue — and what's the holdup?
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iPad 2 Supply Runs Short Of Demand

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iPad 2 Supply Runs Short Of Demand

iPad 2 Supply Runs Short Of Demand

iPad 2 Supply Runs Short Of Demand

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Ever since the iPad 2 launch, American consumers have had trouble walking into a store to buy it. Every morning, Apple stores open early and potential customers wait outside. How long can these lines continue — and what's the holdup?

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Apple released its iPad 2 in 25 countries this weekend and long lines formed in London, Berlin, Sydney and elsewhere.

As NPR's Zoe Chace reports, the tablet went on sale in the U.S. weeks ago, but the lines are as long as ever.

ZOE CHACE: Jabril Amin(ph) has been here since 6:30.

Mr. JABRIL AMIN: I've never seen myself standing in a line waiting for something. And I'm here.

CHACE: We're outside the Apple store in the cold and rain in Washington, D.C. It's around eight in the morning. We're interrupted by Ruben Ingber(ph)

Mr. RUBEN INGBER: I saw them roll out a cart that had at least 30 of them on it.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CHACE: How can you tell?

Mr. INGBER: See that fat white stack back there?

CHACE: Yes.

Mr. INGBER: That whole white stack.

CHACE: I see that.

Mr. INGBER: I saw one of them is coming out. They're definitely iPads.

CHACE: So just then, a Mac employee burst out the door.

Unidentified Man: So I'm going to let you know what we do have today so that...

CHACE: He got a stack of six white tickets in his hands that correspond to different types of iPad 2s, which start at $499. Everyone shuts up.

Unidentified Man: Sixteen gigabytes, black, Wi-Fi only.

CHACE: Is there a shortage or is this a strategy?

Mr. LEANDER KAHNEY (Editor and Publisher, CultOfMac.com): Oh, there's a shortage. This is not a strategy.

CHACE: Leander Kahney runs CultOfMac.com. He's an expert on all things Apple.

Mr. KAHNEY: They can't make enough to keep up with demand. They're selling as many as they can make. And if they can make twice as many, they would sell twice as many.

CHACE: Apple wouldn't return my calls. But analysts confirm Khaney's assessment. So, yes, there's a shortage. They simply underestimated demand just like they did for the iPhone 4.

Mr. KAHNEY: It took about four months for the supply of the iPhone 4 to finally settle down to where it matched the demand almost perfectly.

CHACE: And, yes, Apple is using its shortage to manipulate its customers into an incredible PR stunt. Because the individual stores are told how much product is coming in each morning. And so every day, people queue up, hopeful there will be enough in every major city everywhere.

Mr. KAHNEY: No doubt, on the TV news tonight, I'm going to watch these pictures from London of people lining up out on Reading Street to buy the iPad 2 because it just went on sale there. You know, it's such great press for them.

CHACE: Do you have an iPad 2?

Mr. KAHNEY: Yup. I picked one up on opening day.

CHACE: How did you do it?

Mr. KAHNEY: Well...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. KAHNEY: I cut in line.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. KAHNEY: I hate to say that.

CHACE: No.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CHACE: Here's the thing, though, you can order this product online and it will come in a few weeks. Or you could walk down the street and buy a tablet from a competitor.

Mr. KAHNEY: Well, I don't think there's any chance of that at all. And I don't think people are going to get to the competitors, because they can't get an iPad. I think it just makes them more determined.

CHACE: Another reason people are queuing up is they're afraid the earthquake in Japan will make it hard for Apple to get its component parts.

Mr. GENE MUNSTER (Analyst, Piper Jaffray): Most of the component suppliers were down initially. Most of them are up and running now.

CHACE: Gene Munster is an analyst with Piper Jaffray.

Mr. MUNSTER: What that means is that Japan impact will probably be felt for a two-week period some time in the June quarter.

CHACE: By that time, Jabril Amin hopes to be safely at home with his iPad, unless Apple launches something else by then.

Mr. AMIN: Because I'll go purchase it. I have an iPhone, iPod, iPad, a Mac Book. I'm just lost.

CHACE: The iPad 2 is Apple's most successful product launch ever.

Zoe Chace, NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

BLOCK: This is NPR.

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