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Is Apple's Loss Everybody Else's Gain?

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You may have $500 burning a hole in your pocket, but that doesn't mean you're getting an Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iPad 2.

Head out to Apple's website, and you'll find the tech giant's shiny new tablet on the landing page. That's as close as you're going to get. Clicking on the "Buy Now" button is a bit deceptive. You can certainly purchase a black or white iPad 2 "now," but neither model will ship for another four to five weeks.

Head on out to your local Apple Store, wireless carrier, or consumer electronics superstore and odds are that the shelves have been plucked dry. The bricks-and-mortar locations will be restocked along the way -- consumers shouldn't expect the Apple Store in the suburban shopping mall to be dry for four to five weeks -- but frustrated buyers have no guarantees that they'll nab Apple's latest "magical" gadget. The New York Post ran a story yesterday on Asian scalpers who are cleaning out stores and shipping them to sell at higher markups in China.

This will naturally lead one to see eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY  ) as an iPad 2 beneficiary. The same site that helped iPad owners unload their tablets before upgrading this month is now there to sell premium-priced iPad 2s.

The long-term winners, though, will likely be rival tablet makers.

The lack of availability gives other companies the shot they thought squandered. Motorola Mobility's (NYSE: MMI  ) Xoom had some pre-release buzz as the first tablet built on Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) tablet-friendly Android 3.0 Honeycomb, but buyers recoiled when they heard about the $799 price tag. There's now a $599 Wi-Fi model hitting stores, thankfully during the lull of iPad 2 availability.

Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) was on borrowed time with its hyped-up PlayBook failing to break out into the wild. It now has a few more weeks to hit the market.

This may also be the second chance for the once-hot tablets that land forgot. Remember Samsung's Galaxy Tab? The Android-fueled tablet that Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile is now offering at half of its $499 price for those committing to two-year data contracts? Paying T-Mobile $250 seems like a more lucrative value proposition than paying four times as much for one of the thousands of iPad 2s on eBay.

Hurry up, Apple. Your lead is safe and seemingly insurmountable, but the last thing you need is for envious rivals to regain their long-forgotten swagger.

Who stands to benefit the most from the iPad 2 shortage? Can it be Apple itself? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Google is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. Apple and eBay are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. The Fool has written puts on Apple. Motley Fool Options has recommended a bull call spread position on Apple. The Fool owns shares of Apple, and Google. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is starting to see more Apple products creep into his home lately. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (5) | Recommend This Article (5)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On March 17, 2011, at 2:09 PM, beetlebug62 wrote:

    I don't know about you, Rick, but noone I know is going to buy a Moto or RIM or something else, if they're shopping for an iPad2. It's like getting a Zune for Christmas, when you asked your parents for an iPod.

  • Report this Comment On March 17, 2011, at 5:22 PM, Borbality wrote:

    I have to agree with the comments. If they raised the ipad2 price to 1000 bucks they'd probably somehow sell more of the stupid things.

    They probably somehow benefit from not having enough in stores already. "building buzz" and all that other horrible marketing lingo.

  • Report this Comment On March 17, 2011, at 5:38 PM, derekrlee wrote:

    Oh WOW! Ipad2... Complete with a 0.7 Megapixel camera, no USB, no SD, no 4G, no Flash support.

    HTML5? Forget about it.

    But it looks really cool...

  • Report this Comment On March 17, 2011, at 5:44 PM, Turfscape wrote:

    dereklee wrote:"Oh WOW! Ipad2... Complete with a 0.7 Megapixel camera, no USB, no SD, no 4G, no Flash support."

    You missed one thing in your list: 16 million users.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2011, at 2:50 PM, infektu wrote:


    16 milion users... so what?

    does that somehow compensate for the lack of a USB port, or does it miraculously increase the camera's resolution?

    iPad is a nice try, but it will take more to "cannibalize the netbook", as some love to say.

    If the Playbook will not hit the right chord I can see the idea of a portable hybrid device being pulled back for a couple of quarters.

    How many people that need a $699 newspaper reader do you know?

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