After delays, Apple now catching up to iPad 2 demand

Ship time of 3 to 4 weeks now down to 1 to 3 days

As Apple prepares to release its fiscal third-quarter earnings after the stock market closes on Tuesday, it has some good news for investors.

The company has reduced the waiting time for consumers who purchase its popular iPad 2 tablet to just one to three days.

Gadget site electronista reports:

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.

That's a far cry from the three to four weeks when the iPad 2 debuted in March, not to mention the monthslong backup when the original iPad debuted last year. Back then, it was the only tablet game in town. By last fall, however, competitors such as Samsung's Galaxy Tab began surfacing.

Slow shipping time has been the only real blemish in the iPad story, and not just because of the incredible angst the delays were causing Apple fanboys. In mid-March, Apple shares (NASDAQ: AAPL) fell more than 4 percent in one day after a JMP Securities downgraded the company because it believed shipping delays for the iPad 2 would hurt sales (see link below).

(Also see: Analyst firm downgrades Apple shares. No, really.)

As it turned out, Apple exceeded Q2 revenue estimates, thanks mostly to strong sales of its iPhone and Mac computer.

While the iPad dominates the tablet market with about 65 percent market share in Q1, continued long delays in shipments might have allowed competitors to nibble away at Apple's lead as impatient consumers looked elsewhere for their tablet fix. Now the iPad's competitors -- primarily Android-powered devices -- have lost that little bit of an edge.

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