Domestic demand for Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL ) iPad is so strong that the company is delaying its release abroad. It will begin taking international pre-orders -- and announce pricing details -- next month.
That's what Apple claims, anyway. Do you believe it?
We have a right to be jaded when companies blame handheld gadgetry delays on overwhelming demand. Amazon.com's (Nasdaq: AMZN ) initial Kindle supply sold out in a matter of hours three years ago. Barnes & Noble's (NYSE: BKS ) Nook missed its estimated shipping date last year.
Some may have interpreted the outages as bullish indicators, but they really boiled down to breakdowns in their respective companies' supply chains.
That said, I completely believe Apple this time, for one simple reason. Amazon and Barnes & Noble never divulged any actual sales metrics. It took Amazon a couple of years to even address the volume of Kindles out in the wild, and even then, it only vaguely cited "millions" of cumulative owners.
Apple, on the other hand, is shouting its iPad sales figures from the Cupertino rooftops. The company delivered more than 500,000 units in its first week on the market -- and that's before the 3G model, for which some of us true gadget geeks are waiting, begins shipping by month's end.
Even better for Apple, all these iPads aren't winding up as shiny paperweights. Disney's (NYSE: DIS ) free ABC viewer for the iPad has been downloaded 205,000 times this month, with at least part of 650,000 episodes being viewed.
The tablet game remains in its infancy. Hewlett-Packard's (NYSE: HPQ ) Slate should be a formidable contender when it arrives; its Windows-based underpinnings may make it more accessible to PC users. A Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) Android-flavored tablet is also reportedly in the works, and the search company's surprising success in the smartphone space bodes well for its chances with larger portable gadgetry.
Hopefully, Apple sees the competitors coming, and doesn't get cocky. This is clearly its war to lose, but the battlefield is about to get crowded.
Are you one of the 500,000 iPad owners already? Will you be buying one in the future? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.