Apple fans queued for up to three days to ensure they could get an iPad 2. Photo: Getty Images
- Full review: Apple iPad 2
- Keen mob of rivals
- Main competitor: Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1v
- Time to get the latest gadget ... or a life?
The iPad 2 has sold out around the country but some of Apple's biggest fans have accused the company of botching up the launch by deliberately launching with insufficient stock.
Long-time Australian Apple watcher Matthew Powell, editor of MacTheMagazine.com, said Apple persisted with its announced March 25 launch date despite knowing that it did not have anywhere near enough stock to deliver on orders - particularly those placed online - in a timely fashion.
An employee demonstrates the iPad 2 application Garageband. Photo: Bloomberg
"If this was done to generate headlines it has massively backfired. For every happy iPad 2 owner I know, there are five people extremely pissed off at Apple," said Powell, adding he believed it was not a headline-grabbing stunt but just a botched attempt at sticking to the previously announced launch date.
Christopher Zinn, spokesman for the consumer group Choice, said Apple were fantastic marketers as well as terrific engineers and had created a "terrific cargo cult" around the iPad 2.
"We would definitely say that their marketing nous perhaps exceeds their ability to supply on time and really ... I don't think they can claim they were caught unawares, they should have had a good idea of how many people would want this particular device," he said.
Many stores around the country sold out within hours of the faster, slimmer tablet going on sale at 5pm on Friday.
Yesterday, Apple said some stores still had stock but this morning it appears that all have sold out. Some people arrived at Apple stores early in the morning to ensure they could snap up one of the last remaining units.
Official Apple stores contacted by this website in Sydney and Melbourne this morning said they were sold out and did not know when more stock would arrive.
Third-party resellers around the country such as JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman, Myer, David Jones and NextByte have all sold out as well and are now taking orders.
JB Hi-Fi and Harvey Norman sold out within hours and are practically begging Apple for more stock, with JB Hi-Fi chief executive Terry Smart telling The Australian Financial Review that even with triple the quantity of stock he still couldn't meet the demand out there.
Apple advises on its website that online orders will be fulfilled in "3-4 weeks".
Separately, Apple is running a "reserve and pick up" system where customers can jump online each day after 9pm and reserve an iPad 2 at their local store to be picked up the following day.
However, it is not clear whether there is any stock left for people to reserve and Apple would not provide further clarification.
Some enterprising scalpers have bought up as much iPad 2 stock as they can and listed them on eBay at significant markups. Many models are going for over $1200.
Powell said he placed his online order 10 minutes before they were scheduled to start being accepted at 1am on Friday.
He was immediately quoted a 2-3 week delivery time but when his order confirmation arrived delivery was estimated to be 27 days nearly four weeks.
"They never had any intention of delivering online orders in a timely manner, so what the hell was the point of a 1am start?," said Powell.
"On the other hand, iPad covers were also quoted as '2-3 weeks' and TNT tells me mine will be delivered today. So who knows when my iPad will get here. Does anyone at Apple have the vaguest clue about their stock levels?"
Powell said he had called up various retailers and some said more stock was due in days, some said weeks while others had no idea.
He said at one JB Hi-Fi store he spoke to two different people, one of whom said more stock would arrive on Thursday and the other said "maybe four weeks".
"Some stores are taking pre-orders, for which they ask full payment up front, with no delivery estimate at all. You'll get an iPad someday," said Powell.
"Then there are the Apple Store staff, who appear to have been instructed to tell people to just keep coming back and there'll be stock soon, with no indication of when. No other retailer would treat its customers' time with such disrespect."
Powell went as far as saying "this is the biggest botch-up of a launch I've ever seen", but later backtracked on this.
"OK, maybe not the worst botch-up ever, but it's pretty bad when you launch with insufficient stock and your supply chain has so little idea what to say to their (your) customers about future orders," he said.
Similar stock issues are being felt around the world, including in the US and Britain. Apple launched the device in 25 countries outside of the US on Friday despite already encountering supply problems.
iPad 2 shortages are only expected to deepen as the fallout from the Japanese quake and tsunami disaster begins to affect Apple's supply of components.
Some users have begun complaining about issues with their shiny new device, including display quality problems, spotty Wi-Fi and inconsistent camera image quality.
The first real competitor to the iPad 2, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1v, is due out by the middle of next month.
This reporter is on Twitter: @ashermoses