It's possible, for example, that some companies could boost production at unaffected plants, or retool other facilities they own outside Japan to manufacture their products. The latter, though, is difficult, said Lam, who noted that companies would have to "qualify" the new facilities with their customers before delivering components, a time-consuming process.
The picture should be clearer with the next few weeks.
"The Japanese companies have generally been very, very quiet about this," Lam said. "I would think we would know better within weeks, not months."
If production resumes at Japanese companies like Asahi in the next two weeks, the impact should be minor, said iSuppli in a research note published Monday, since downstream producers have stockpiles they can draw on.
Potential iPad 2 component shortages couldn't come at a worse time for Apple, which last week extended the delay between online ordering and shipping to 4-to-5 weeks, and which has faced long lines of customers at its retail stores.
"Right now they're running through that first batch of materials," said Lam, referring to the Chinese companies Apple contracts with to assemble the iPad 2. "The real problems could come for the second and third batches."
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer , or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is email@example.com .
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