When the Apple Store came back online yesterday after the announcement of the iPad 2, customers were a bit shocked to find out that Apple is not taking any pre-orders for the device until March 11th, the same day the product hits store shelves. Apple has always had a great track record of taking pre-orders on products after they’ve been announced, so we’ve been wondering just why they’ve changed policy this time. Could it be that they’re afraid they’re not going to have enough initial stock to satisfy store orders as well as online orders?
Rumors were flying around the web days before the event that Apple has been facing supply constraints for the iPad 2 and that the product was facing the serious possibility of being delayed until April or May. When Steve Jobs took the stage yesterday, he went out of his way to adamantly state that the iPad 2 would be launching worldwide in March, and not April or May. Is the move to eliminate pre-orders an effort to increase the lines at stores and build even more hype around the excitement of the launch? That could possibly be the answer but I think it’s a bit unlikely.
As Cult of Mac writer John Brownlee expressed earlier this morning, “What is the benefit of trying to fill millions of pre-orders all in one day when they can instead be processed and filled at a more leisurely pace over the course of two weeks? If Apple has plenty to go around, and we’ve already heard plenty of reports of supply bottlenecks, why make everything more stressful for themselves?”
Not everyone on the site agrees that Apple is facing supply constraints though. Another CoM writer, Lonnie Lazar stated, “I’ll eat my hat if anyone in America who wants an iPad 2 won’t be able to order it online on the 11th for overnight delivery on the 12th…Apple will manufacture demand and keep it inflated in any and every way possible; it’s part of their shticht.”
While this is all purely speculation with no confirmed information coming directly from Apple, we’re left to read the tea leaves and hypothesize what is going on behind the scenes to cause Apple to break away from the norm. To the frustration of many, Apple actually faced a few weeks of delays for pre-orders with the launch of the iPhone 4 last summer
. It sounds like Apple is uncertain whether they’re going to be able to meet the initial demand for the iPad 2, and that the demand is going to be markedly greater than they originally assumed. Suffering through the lines at stores on March 11th will be customer’s best bet to get an iPad within the first few weeks of the product launch. It would come as no surprise if by the end of March 11th, customers trying to pre-order the iPad 2 aren’t met with a notice stating that the device won’t ship to them for 1-2 weeks.
The iPad 2 is poised to become Apple’s fastest selling product. Many hopeful customers passed on the first iPad, opting to wait until the second generation device was announced. The announcement of the first iPad was met with skepticism as to whether it was a relevant piece of technology. Over the past nine months that skepticism has now turned into optimism, with people jumping for the opportunity to own one. The iPad 2 fullfils all the needs of 90% of computer users (web, photos, music, video, and a bit of word processing), has a simplistic and intuitive interface, and comes at a great price. Surely 2011 will be the year of the iPad, we just hope there’s going to be enough to go around.