Popularity and shipping — not technical problems — are the reasons for the extended wait of more than 30 days for availability of Apple’s new
G4 PowerBook, sources close to the company have told MacCentral. To be safe, Apple and its distributors are telling customers to be patient for around 40 days, maybe more, depending on when the order was placed. Availability of
high-end Power Mac G4 systems has been backed up as well, now expected around the end of March.
Announced in early January during
Steve Jobs’ keynote address at Macworld Expo in San Francisco, customers were told the slim-line portable would be shipping in a “few weeks” and would be available by the end of January.
But sources inside
Apple say demand and “minor shipping and distribution issues” are the cause for delays in getting the new PowerBook in the hands of customers who started ordering minutes after its announcement on January 9.
Apple Store customers and dealers are being told by both Apple and its primary distributors that it will be closer to the end of February if not into March before PowerBooks start to become readily available.
“The issues are not technical in nature,” said a source close to the company, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “Demand has been good, but that has little to do with the delays in shipping.”
When asked by MacCentral Tuesday, an Apple spokesperson would not officially comment or categorize the demand for the new PowerBook.
Some Apple dealers are being told there have been shipping and distribution delays in getting units from overseas manufacturing plants in Taiwan and that Apple is shipping small lots including individual units — an expensive alternative — to at least get units in some stores in time for planned Demo Days beginning this weekend. One source reports Apple would rather not ship individual units if possible, and as a result, dealers are skeptical they will receive even demo units in the near future.
Apple used similar practices in the past, including when the original iMac debuted. Then, Apple shipped new iMacs overnight from California as well as from overseas so dealers could have product to sell at midnight on the day of official launch.
From talking with a number of sources, it appears pronouncements of “30 days” and “45 days” for G4 PowerBooks availability by the Apple Store, dealers and distributors is more of an effort to be ‘better safe than sorry’. All those interviewed for this story felt optimistic that product will begin to flow sooner than most think, but that past experience with Apple’s initial availability promises leaves room for skepticism.
“I truly believe Apple and distributors are quoting 45 days to be safe,” one Illinois-based Mac dealer commented. “My Apple representative told me 45 days has always been the standard quote Apple uses when they don’t have a more firmer date. Online customers hear one thing. I hear another from Apple and my distributor. You know, I don’t know whom to believe. I’ll believe it when UPS walks through my door with them.”
“The sooner you ordered, whether from the Apple Store or a dealer, the better the chances you’ll get it sooner rather than later,” an Apple Store supervisor told MacCentral.
Dates and days are getting confusing. The Apple Store has backed up its estimated shipping date from 21 to 45 days in less than two weeks. Ingram Micro, a major computer distributor, is now estimating availability of ‘Mercury’ PowerBooks for March 5, as of Tuesday.
Customers ordering directly from Apple appear to be getting confusing quotes and e-mail from the company as it appears inside sales agent are just as much in the dark about PowerBook availability as customers. Letters from G4 PowerBook customers to
The PowerBook Zone, an online resource for Mac laptop aficionados, give clear indications that customers are getting a different story almost daily and are becoming increasingly skeptical of what they are being told.
“One ongoing problem I’ve been having is that I haven’t been getting a straight answer out of the Apple Store people on ship dates. Every call gives me a different answer. The answer you get seems to depend largely on who answers the phone,” one reader wrote The PowerBook Zone.
To make matters worse, estimated shipping dates for high-end Power Mac G4 systems have also been scaled back. Dealers are being told by Apple and its distributors to not expect 667MHz and 733MHz Power Mac G4s now until March 30, at the latest — some nine weeks from now. MacCentral sources
predicted in early January that high-end G4 systems would have significant delays in part because of a availability of Pioneer DVD/CD-rewritable drives and faster G4 processors in mass quantities from Motorola.
466MHz and 533MHz PowerPC G4 systems are plentiful and readily available, dealers have confirmed.