iPad 2 Global Release and Shipping Hurt By Japan's Crisis

Mar 24, 2011, 12:32 by Greg Stacy

The Apple iPad 2 has already been hard to find, with the device selling out in stores all over the US. But the ongoing crisis in Japan is likely to make the iPad 2 even more scarce.

The earthquake, tsunami and aftershocks that have struck Japan have halted or delayed production of many of the key components of the iPad 2, including batteries, NAND Flash memory, image sensors, touch screens and the resins that Apple employs to hold the iPad 2's chipsets together.

Suppliers in Japan are responsible for 35% of the globe's NAND Flash production. Japan is also the world's main source of semiconductor and LCD manufacturing equipment.

The iPad 2's supply problems have been made even worse by Japan's rolling blackouts. Many of the production facilities won't be able to get back online until the aftershocks stop, experts say.

Shipping times for the iPad 2 have gone from three-to-five-days to three-to-four-weeks, and now a shipment can take as long as five weeks. The tablet is also schedule to go on sale in the international community this week.

This isn't the first time that Apple has faced supply problems. The iPhone 4 was delayed for months after its launch, while the original iPad was also hard to find.

"Apple always has supply constraints with its in-demand products, but now there are more broadband concerns about every component from the simple to the most advanced ones," Colin Gillis, an analyst at BGC partners, told CNNMoney.com. "The story's not over; we have to keep watching this."

Analysts note that as the iPad 2's components become more scarce they will also probably become more expensive, which could potentially affect Apple's profits. But Brian White, an analyst at Ticonderoga Securities, is one expert who is not worried about Apple's future.

"Apple is at risk," White told CNNMoney.com. "At the same time, Apple has enough pull in the supply chain ... to get more than its fair share of supplier output."

Source CNNMoney.com