With the buzz building up nicely towards Wednesday's global unveiling, the first wave of buyers in the UAE will have to wait until stores get their first deliveries from the US before they can get their hands on what is expected to be the iPad 3.
These buyers will also have to shell out a hefty premium — Dh7,000 and more — to get one, according to market sources.
"There is a committed base of Apple users here who would pay top dollar to be among the first," said Rasak T., managing director at Micro Digital.
"They will start activating the local market as soon as the new model is unveiled in the US. It should be no different from what was seen following the global launch of the iPad 2 and, more recently, the iPhone 4S." (Actually, the initial sets of the iPhone 4S even fetched a hefty Dh8,000 at one point.)
Obviously, these are units marked as the US versions and brought in by the individual retailers here. It could be a couple of months or more for Apple to officially start releasing shipments of the iPad 3 for the UAE and GCC markets.
"Again going by Apple's track record, there will be limits placed on the number of units a single buyer can acquire following the US launch," said Rasak.
We have spoken to our regular sources there to get us some units which can then be brought here.
"Only after Apple starts sending shipments to the European markets will we see more availability of the model in the UAE. It could be a few weeks before that happens."
Gap to exploit
That is the gap any seller holding the model will try to exploit to ensure he gets a premium pricing. Already, the online chat channels have worked themselves into a frenzy as to what the iPad 3 heralds for the tablet format and the user experience. It will get shriller once the first physical sightings take place.
"We have a lot of enquiries but haven't started accepting any pre-bookings until we get specific information on the product models," said Ashish Panjabi, chief operating officer at Jacky's Electronics. "As regards the sourcing, rest assured our supply chain team will work to have the stocks here as soon as is possible."
To assuage any concerns a buyer might have when opting for the US version of the model, retailers such as Micro are backing the product up by offering warranties "at o
What would all of this mean for the iPad 2? Is demand starting to flag now that anticipation is building up for the latest variant of the tablet?
"Far from it — right up to and through the DSF and thereafter iPad 2 demand has been running consistently high to notch up average weekly volumes of more than 300 units," said a retailer. "In our case, most of the demand is coming from non-UAE buyers."
Rasak attributes the demand highs to the commoditisation of the product. "The mid-income buyers are the most active seekers of the product now and that's a trend in evidence from the fourth quarter 2011 onwards," he said.
"Even now shoppers are coming in asking for the original iPad, which we don't stock any longer. That's why the new launch in itself will not materially impact on the existing demand for the iPad 2. We see this continuing for another six months at least."
According to market sources, there is still a supply shortfall in the official shipments of the best-selling Apple products to these markets. As long as this state continues, the parallel routes will flourish. The iPad 3 will only make it more pronounced.