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Apple: iPad Lead Time Shows Strong Demand

|About: Apple Inc. (AAPL)

I have been tracking Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) new iPad's availability in all of the countries that Apple has retail stores. What started at 2 to 3 weeks when the iPad first started shipping on Friday, March 16, improved to 1 to 2 weeks on Tuesday, March 21, in all countries.

It stayed at 1 to 2 weeks until Friday, April 20, when it improved to 5 to 7 business days in the US, Japan, Canada, Australia and France. It is still at 1 to 2 weeks in the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Spain and The Netherlands.

The iPad became available in Hong Kong on Friday, April 20, with 1-2 week availability along with South Korea and eleven other countries. On April 27 it became available in nine more countries including India. It is not available in Apple's China stores.

The improved shipment times and introduction of more countries is a good indication that there aren't any major manufacturing issues. However, after almost one and a half months of shipping Apple has not caught up with demand.

A way to get a read on how the new iPad is doing is to check the percent of traffic it generates versus the iPad1 and iPad2 as measured by Chitika. On April 28, 2012, about 11% of all US iPad traffic was on the new iPad.

Through March 2012 there have been 67.1 million iPads sold and my initial estimate is that Apple could sell 16 million iPads in the June quarter. This would be a 73% year over year increase and 36% higher than the March quarter. While these are lower than the growth rates after the iPad2 was launched a year ago this quarters growth is coming off of a higher base (11.8 million in the March 2012 quarter vs. 4.7 million in the March 2011 quarter). Depending on its introduction to China (Apple could be waiting for a resolution to the Proview suit over the iPad naming rights in China), increased corporate and educational demand my estimate is probably more biased to the upside vs. downside.

Disclosure: I am long AAPL.