IPad pre-orders begin, and so does the speculation
Apple began accepting pre-orders for the iPad tablet this morning, around three weeks ahead of the April 3 launch date in the U.S. Only the WiFi version of the tablet will be available on that date, with the 3G version shipping later in April.
Apple is limiting pre-orders to two devices per customer, which one prominent Apple blog said suggested the company is stretched thin on supply. Analysts over the past two weeks have noted some hiccups in iPad production.
Here’s Oppenheimer & Co analyst Yair Reiner in a research note earlier this week:
“Our channel checks have confirmed recent media reports that the iPad has encountered production problems and has failed to ramp as expected. We now believe Apple will have 300K-400K units built by the end of March, compared to an earlier target of more than one million units. Our checks suggest that Apple continues to target production of 10 million units for the full calendar year. (We also believe the primary cause of the production delay relates to a component shortage. The reported yield issues at the assembler, Hon Hai, is a secondary problem, in our view.) ”
Any production issues aside, those who pre-order the iPad can have it shipped directly to their home, or pick it up at an Apple store.
Analysts expect the company to sell 2 million to 5 million units in the first year. Obviously there’s no way to know how strong the iPad orders have been so far Friday, but that’s of course not stopping people from speculating. A blogger at Phanfare suggested iPads were selling at a brisk pace early on:
“We just bought two iPads, about 30 minutes apart. Our order IDs are 10,000 apart. Assuming those order IDs are sequential, and they appear to be, then Apple is selling 20,000 iPads per hour.”
Another guesstimate came up with a slightly bigger number, but in the same ballpark. It will be interesting to see what kind of crowd the iPad draws on launch weekend.