Following a report that iPad 2 production was backlogged, pushing the ship date of the refreshed tablet into the summer, we're now hearing indications that they'll be in stores as early as next week. AppleInsider is quoting the well-known "people familiar with the matter" as saying that at least some iPad 2s "will be in transit to retail outlets" during next Wednesday's announcement.
Last week, Taiwanese research firm Yuanta said that there had been production problems with the second-generation iPad that would delay the release by as much as two months. Though most analysts thought these reports were overblown, both Apple and iPad manufacturer Foxconn saw their stock prices plummet. Twin reports on Friday, however, indicated that Yuanta was not just wrong, they were very wrong.
A Jon Paczkowski post on the Wall Street Journal's Digital Daily blog quotes Barclays analyst Kirk Yang as saying that iPad 2 shipments would start in early April. Delays past the original estimate of March are due to "production line setup and training," not any production problem, Yang said. But AppleInsider, which true to its name has multiple sources inside the company, says that Apple is greasing the skids for a major product rollout in the second half of next week. According to AppleInsider's insiders, they are "preparing several of its operating segments to perform functions during the second half of next week that are representative of nothing short of a large scale, consumer-oriented product roll out (not just an announcement)." Though this is clearly just hearsay, AppleInsider notes that these sources have "consistently provided accurate information" about Apple's plans and timing.
The bottom line is that it would make no sense for Apple to announce a new tablet - at the same time Motorola 's working on building up buzz for the Xoom - that it couldn't deliver for a month or more. In an increasingly competitive environment, Apple can't afford to wait. So while we don't know if the report is true, it would be the right move for Apple, and their choice of Wednesday for the announcement more likely than not reflects their confidence that they can get iPads on the street quickly.