iPad: Apple’s planned supply shortage boosts its most disruptive product introduction yet (Updated) 4

Apple’s iPad seems set to disrupt industries beyond publishing – the potential for the new information access paradigm is only slowly being understood – but its effects are beginning to come to the surface.

It seems the gadget will hit the ground running, if the web traffic around it is anything to go by – so much so we’re likely to see the product in short supply – and Apple execs hope to change the world.

I’ve been castigated in the past for saying I think it possible the new contraption may ship later in some key territories than the date it hits the US.

Partially that’s because Apple’s trying to set-up good 3G access deals internationally, now iPad has emerged from its invisibility cloak and has been officially announced.

(Though given the years of rumour preceeding the introduction of the system, it has to have been the leakiest invisibility cloak ever. I mean, Frodo would never have stood a chance if he’d relied on that).

Another reason is the traditional availability challenge that meets launch of every hot new family of Apple products – there’s never quite enough of them to go around. (For evidence I humbly point to the iMac, iPod, iPhone, all of which saw some delay before reaching certain territories).

Apple is already preparing the market for shortages by leaking stories suggesting production problems will impact availability to the hard-bitten hacks at AppleInsider.

That and the fact UK prices haven’t yet been officially announced suggest Apple execs have been girding their loins for some semblance of supply/demand foreplay to get the product’s introduction “just right”. One needs to Think Different, after all. Appe knew supply was likely to be limited even before it announced the product.

To cite AI: “”The upcoming iPad launch may be somewhat limited as a manufacturing bottleneck has impacted production of Apple’s newest device,” Canaccord Adams analyst Peter Misek wrote. “An unspecified production problem at the iPad’s manufacturer, Hon Hai Precision, will likely limit the launch region to the US and the number of units available to roughly 300K in the month of march, far lower than the company’s initial estimate of 1,000K units.”

Despite the delicate dance of product marketing, interest in the new Apple tablet is real.

Twitter trends fans will have seen iPad float around right there. Hitwise today revealed terms associated with Apple’s iPad tablet were the fourth most searched for a laptop model in the UK for the week ending 23rd of January 2010, before the 27 Jan launch.

We’ve talked before about City Inn, who are already pumping their chain of hotel rooms full of iMacs. Fast forward to today and it seems the iPad could be the new must-have gadget in the hospitality biz, with one industry expert already predicting hotel chains will soon introduce powerful apps to enable guests to make and change bookings and customise their stay.

“They’ve taken the technology and smartly used it as a brand extension rather than putting a salesperson on the screen of the user, trying to nickel and dime their way to increased sales,” he writes.

“But take those unimaginative apps, perhaps even those what some may call version one’s, and if that is what your app is trying to do now on a screen the size of an iPhone – how will it look and be reacted to when measured by a factor of six when shown on the screen of an iPad.

“Come on – lets be creative on what we do with this fabulous piece of real estate.”

Among other ideas he theorises use of an iPad as:

– Electronic menus with high-res images of food items
– Wine lists with extra features such as info and images of the vineyards the wines come from
– As a tool for housekeepers to inform maintenance departments of what needs repair.
– Mobile CCTV interrogation devices for security to check what’s going down.
– eCatalogues for sales and marketing
– Guest in room entertainment and more.

Now add notions of future marketing to the mix. You pick up a magazine, say the New York Times. In there you find an ad for a hotel in a place you want to stay. Click on the ad and you’ll instantly be sent to an online application showing you round the place (more so than a website).

You’ll also be able to download the hotel’s iPad/iPhone app. This will offer yet more features, including the capacity to look at images of the rooms you’d most like, to check the view out of the windows – even get an idea of what’s on the menu at the time you choose to visit, and access to tons of information on what’s going on in the local area at that time.

Spend a little time thinking about it, and you’ll see that this is part of what Flash does today. Is this the true reason Apple and Adobe aren’t getting on so well these days?

UPDATED: Now an Apple spokesperson tells Wired: the “iPad will be available in late March.” Clearly Apple doesn’t say where. Still no UK price – yet. And it won’t change the disruptive effect. Be ready.

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