Apple has blamed the delay of the international launch of its new iPad tablet computer on a struggle to meet demand in the US.
Just a few weeks ago Steve Jobs, Apple’s chief executive, said the company was on track to start selling the iPad in the UK by the end of this month. But on Wednesday the company said it would not announce international pricing or start taking pre-orders until May 10. In the US, iPads range in price from $499 to $829.
The company said it had sold 500,000 iPads in the US in the first week after the device’s April 3 launch and was not able to keep up with demand. Analysts had originally forecast the company would sell between 100,000 and 400,000 units in the first wave of sales.
“Demand is far higher than we predicted and will likely continue to exceed our supply over the next several weeks as more people see and touch an iPad,” Apple said.
Some analysts expressed surprise at Apple’s miscalculation of iPad demand.
“The device was available to pre-order for a long time, so the volume of demand should not have come as a surprise. Apple have not typically suffered with logistics,” said Ben Wood, analyst at CCS Insight, the technology consultancy.
Mr Wood said telecoms operators, though keen to stock the device, might be fearful of how much capacity it would use up on their networks as customers download large video files.
In the US, hundreds of users have complained about problems connecting the iPad to the internet.
Ian Fogg, analyst at Forrester Research, said: “It is entirely credible that Apple were surprised by the scale of demand for the iPad, as it is an entirely new type of device. It is also possible that they have had some teething problems.”
The announcement of the roll-out delay came as Vodafone, the UK-based telecoms operator, said it would be offering mobile data price plans for the 3G version of the iPad in Australia, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK from the end of May. France Telecom’s Orange will offer services in France, the UK, Spain and Switzerland, while Telefónica’s O2 will also carry the iPad in the UK.
Only a Wi-Fi version of the device has been released so far, with a 3G version coming in the US at the end of this month.
3G versions of the iPad will require a special micro-SIM card to connect to the mobile phone network. In the US, AT&T will sell an extra connectivity package for 3G iPhone users. European operators are expected to follow the same model.