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iPad 2: Here Today, Gone Today

3/14/2011 02:53:55 PM Eastern
New York - Apple said it is "working hard to get iPad 2 into the hands of every customer who wants one as quickly as possible" in the wake of shortages of the product at retail.

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The product went on sale a 5 p.m. local time Friday and is already out-of-stock in many -- if not all -- stores.

Analyst Chris Whitmore of Deutsche Bank said a survey of around 100 stores a few hours after the device went on sale found all of the stores to be out of stock. The stores included Apple, Best Buy, Walmart, Verizon and AT&T. He estimated sell-through of more than 450,000 units on the first day.

At AT&T, a spokesman cited "great customer response" for the fact that "some of our stores have already sold through their inventory." In those stores, he said, "we're taking orders through our direct fulfillment process, which means your device will arrive at the store within 14 to 21 days." Customers will receive an email from AT&T to notify them that their shipment is ready to be picked up, he said. Consumers who order online will get their devices between 14 and 21 days from when the order is placed.

For its part, Verizon Wireless didn't say how many of its stores are out of stock but did say customers can go to stores to place an order and have the iPad 2 shipped to their house. The carrier hasn't offered the iPad 2 through its online store.

A Best Buy spokesperson told Reuters that some stores ran out within 10 minutes, but the company declined further comment on its inventory situation to TWICE. The chain offers the Wi-Fi version of the iPad 2 in its Best Buy stores and select Best Buy Mobile locations, with the AT&T and Verizon versions limited to the chain's Apple Sales Consultant (ASC) stores, where Apple stations its own employees in Best Buy stores.

Best Buy's online release date has not been determined yet, a spokesman said.

Walmart hasn't responded to inquiries.

Piper Jaffray estimates that 400,000 to 500,000 iPad 2s were sold in one day compared with 300,000 iPads sold last year in their first weekend of availability.
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