In all countries where the new third-generation iPad will become available this Friday, Apple has completely sold out of pre-order inventory in a situation that mirrored the iPad 2′s debut a year ago. The iPad-maker is informing customers that they should not expect shipments to arrive now for up to three weeks. In a statement, Apple’s PR stated that demand for the tablet has been ‘off the charts,’ a buzz term that was used twice by CEO Tim Cook in his keynote announcing the tablet.
In the U.S. and Canada, the soonest that customers can pre-order and expect the tablet to arrive now is by Monday, March 19, according to Apple’s online store. The delivery date would be three days after the tablet’s initial availability date that was guaranteed to customers who pre-ordered early. Some customers who pre-ordered early have already begun to receive shipment notifications for their tablets.
Customers outside the U.S. and Canada can expect inventory situations to be a bit more constrained. Customers in France, Japan, Germany, Switzerland, and the UK can expect earliest delivery–if ordered now–three weeks out. In Hong Kong, the iPad is now showing as unavailable.
While Apple may have ramped up production for this year’s iPad release following heavy shortages of the iPad 2, analysts predict that the situation this year may not improve much. Analysts are predicting that heavy shortages will occur again this year as supplies partners LG Display, Samsung, and Sharp have faced challenges in trying to manufacture Apple’s Retina Display, which packs in over 3.1 million pixels on a 9.7-inch screen.
Resellers are once again taking advantage of the iPad shortage this year, creating a grey market. On eBay, resellers who are promising the tablet next week are marking up the 16 GB WiFi model to as much as $1,200, a significant increase from the $500 starting price, and the 64 GB iPad 4G model is going for as much as $2,800, a steep premium over the $829 price that Apple is charging.
Unlike the iPad 2′s release where Apple debuted the slate first to the U.S. market before offering it internationally two weeks later, the company is more ambitious with the new iPad selling it in 12 regions globally from the start. This year’s model promises a faster graphics processor, Retina Display, inclusion of 4G LTE, and an improved camera.