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November 05, 2012

Apple Stores Seeing iPad Mini Shortages, Complete Stock-Outs

By Steve Anderson, Contributing TMCnet Writer

A recent survey staged by Topeka Capital Markets took a closer look at how the iPad Mini was faring in the markets since its launch weekend. The word that came back was one that should make Apple (News - Alert) at least provisionally happy, but does speak of potential problems to follow.

The Topeka Capital Markets survey found what is generally expected following the launch of a new Apple product: lots of sold-out stores. According to the survey, fully 60 percent of Apple Store locations were sold out completely of anything iPad Mini. However, that remaining 40 percent that still had models in stock had one model rendered unavailable by brisk business: the 16 gigabyte model. It was completely sold out, both among the stores that had sold out of iPad Mini models in their entirety and those that still had some models left to sell.

Interestingly, 10 percent of the stores were reportedly sold out of 64 gigabyte units in white and silver, while 14 percent were sold out of the black and slate version. Ninety percent of the stores that still had iPad Mini models to sell had sold out of the 32 gigabyte version in black and slate, with 76 percent reporting out of the 32 gigabyte version in white and silver.

The centerpiece of the Topeka Capital Markets report, however, comes in the form of the response that, before the iPad Mini, 48 percent of respondents had never owned a tablet from any maker previously, meaning the iPad Mini was their first tablet. This was a projection that many were making before Apple launched the iPad Mini, that the smaller, less expensive tablet would allow Apple to make inroads in markets they had previously untapped. Additionally, it allows them to compete with similar small tablet releases like the Nexus 7 and, of course, the popular Kindle Fire from Amazon.

Yet the popularity of the iPad Mini presents what seems to have become a standard problem for Apple: customers will now have to wait for their next iPad Mini to arrive. The Apple Store's online branch is now putting the wait for a Wi-Fi only model at two weeks regardless of size, and those wanting a version with a cellular data plan are on a wait until "mid-November". How many customers will wait the weeks required to ship an iPad Mini when other competitors are ready to go immediately? Admittedly, there's less interest for the iPad Mini than there was for previous Apple releases, but this one was still a hot property in its own right.

It's perhaps the best problem for Apple to have, having so many potential customers that some will likely end up alienated by Apple's inability to rapidly provide for all of them. Still, it means some will likely be lost, and permanently. But if Apple can keep putting up quality hardware releases, it's a safe bet they'll continue to have the best problem possible for some time to come.

Edited by Brooke Neuman
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