Today, Apple announced a delay for non-US availability of the iPad due to extremely high levels of US demand.
This is credible. The iPad is a new category for Apple and arguably there is nothing quite like the iPad available from any other firm, certainly nothing with the same high media profile supporting sales. This makes forecasting sales harder than it would be for a new phone or a new computer. If the iPad was just a PC in tablet form forecasting would be easy. It's not.
With iPhone, Apple staggered its multi-country roll-out by five months. For iPad, Apple had ambitiously set out to shrink this lag to just one month – perhaps Apple was simply over optimistic?
However, even with high demand, it's completely possible that Apple is experiencing manufacturing or component problems as well. As a colleague once said about football: an incident can be both a foul and a dive.
What's going to be more interesting than today's news will be iPad pricing in Europe. Apple still hasn't announced prices and now plans to unveil them on May 10th. In the US, the iPad is sold at full retail price for both the WiFi-only and 3G version. Mobile internet data is offered as an ad hoc pre pay addition. In Europe, I wonder if Apple and its European operator partners may go down a different route.
If mobile operators were to subsidise the iPad, as they already do for the iPhone, it would completely alter the sales prospects for iPad in Europe by dramatically reducing the up-front price that consumers pay and increase sales.
Regardless, until Apple announces both the price structure and actual prices, we'll hold off making a call on iPad sales outside of the US (where we forecast 3 million first year sales).