iPad 2 supply catching up with demand

Apple's iPad 2 has been in short supply since the day of its launch back in April, and the Cupertino company has been shifting every unit its Chinese manufacturing partners can churn out.

You might be lucky enough to walk into your local bricks and mortar Apple store and pick up one of the £400-plus prodable PCs if your timing was fortuitous, but waiting until last knockings on a Sunday evening was never a good bet.

Although buying one online was a safer bet for those not willing to come home empty handed, for the last three months Apple has been quoting four to five-week shipping times on every model of the game-changing device on both its US an UK online outlets.

Today, and for the first time, the waiting time has become substantially shorter with every store we checked promising to dispatch every SKU from the £400 16GB Wi-Fi only version up to the £660 3G-equipped model within five working days. Three if you're lucky.

That's good news for customers and could either be good news or bad news for Apple depending on the reasons behind the change.

If Apple has finally got to the bottom of supply-chain problems, and is now able to source enough touch-screen panels which meet its stringent demands to keep the retail machine ticking over, it's all well and good. The cash registers will continue to chime, filling Apple's ever-increasing coffers, until the iPad 3 is released and the cycle restarts.

There is, however, a darker possibility.

Every product, no matter how popular, has its saturation point. The point when everyone who wants an iPad 2 (or can afford one more accurately) has already taken the plunge.

Although the iPad 2 has experienced stellar sales, it would be a very foolish pundit who predicted that, after just three months on the shelves, the second-generation tablet had reached such a point.

It's more likely that, if the move isn't purely down to ironing out kinks in the manufacturing process and supply chain, the relative glut (and we do mean relative) is down to a seasonal lull in sales.

Although summer barely seems to have started, people are ramping up to the back-to-school period where laptops traditionally fly off of the shelves to the detriment of all other hardware.

We're pretty sure that, come October, the iPad 2 will be as rare as rocking-horse poo once again.