Apple showed signs it was nearly matching supply with demand Saturday as iPad 2 ship times on the Apple Store shrank to one to three days. The reduced lead time follows almost exactly a week after they fell to three to five days. Deliveries haven’t fully caught up but, at the current pace, could ship within 24 hours like other Apple products as soon as the end of next week.
The tablet is closing on immediate availability much faster than at first thought. Apple cleared through the worst of its initial backlog on April 20 but was stuck at one to two weeks’ delay for nearly three months. Shortages are even more than before repeating the pattern from last year, where Apple took four months to catch up.
Improved availability is more likely to reflect Apple catching up than any slowdown in sales. Apple has previously said it was shipping every iPad 2 possible and that production ramp was the only bottleneck. The iPad had two thirds of the tablet market in the first quarter of 2011 but is widely expected to stay ahead or even gain share with its spring results next week as its shipments could potentially double and keep it ahead of competitors shipping only a few hundred thousand each.