Long lines around the block at iPad vendors, techies drooling as they wait for their iPad, late-comers adding names to waiting lists as stores sell out of the gadget in minutes – it’s a familiar scene for those who have watched the previous product launches of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL).
Only this time, the frenzy is in Asia.
China is catching iPad fever now that Apple’s famous tablet is now being offered in Hong Kong, Singapore and New Zealand stores as of Friday, July 23. And after red-hot sales in the U.S. when the tablet computer hit stores in May, many are watching closely to see if the Apple iPad’s debut in Asia will be as successful as its U.S. launch – or maybe even more so.
The iPad had been available in China since its launch in the United States, but only from store owners who imported the tablet from U.S. retailers. In some cases, vendors would buy up iPads, stick them in their suitcase and fly home. But this official launch makes the trendy iPad much easier for business owners to get a hold of, and provides the product on a much larger scale.
After the frenzy that welcomed the iPad launch today, the only real question is whether Apple Inc. can keep up with Asia’s appetite. Yesterday, Apple reported that it has sold 3.27 million iPads worldwide so far, tallying revenue of $2.17 billion for the California-based tech giant. Adding Chinese consumers via Hong Kong and Singapore could strain supply chains if demand is as strong.
Recent Apple products have been such big hits that the tech innovator might have trouble keeping them in stock. There’s word out this week from LG that the company can’t produce the touch screens fast enough to keep up with demand for the iPad – and that was before Asia was added into the mix. And on the iPhone 4 front, yesterday Apple announced that the white version of its latest iPhone will not be available until later this year, despite an original release date of July.
Having red-hot products is a good thing. But it appears that Apple may face the very real problem of not being able to manufacture gadgets fast enough.
Perhaps Apple will be able to keep up. If it does, shareholders and Apple execs will be rolling in profits later this year. But on the heels of recent iPhone antenna woes, Apple needs to be very careful that it doesn’t further alienate consumers by keeping prospective customers in the U.S. and Asia waiting for the iPad too long.
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