Over the weekend, the shipping window for Apple’s new 21.5-inch and 27-inch iMacs narrowed to 1–3 days from 2-3 weeks. A dramatic improvement for machines that have been in tight supply since they debuted, but one that’s limited geographically. For while iMac availability is improving in the United States, overseas it’s another matter entirely.
Outside the United States, iMac shipping windows remain at a week or more. In France and the U.K., they’re 5-7 business days for the 21.5-inch models and 1-2 weeks for the 27-inch models. In Germany the window is two weeks for both models. And in Japan, the 21.5-inch models ship in 2-3 weeks and the 27-inch models in 3-4 weeks. So overseas, iMac availability clearly remains somewhat constrained.
Why the intercontinental disparity in shipping windows? Simple: Apple has amassed enough North American inventory to meet expected demand. But this is true only of the iMac’s four standard models. The addition of any customization, even if it’s simply swapping in a trackpad for a mouse, pushes the device’s ship time back out to 2-3 weeks. Outside the U.S. the story is the same as it has been to date. iMac supplies still aren’t at the level Apple wants. As CEO Tim Cook noted on the company’s last earnings call, “We left the quarter with significant constraints on the iMac. … We are confident that we are going to significantly increase the supply. But the demand here is very strong, and we are not certain that we will achieve a supply-demand balance during the quarter.”
That remains the case today, as these varied shipping windows demonstrate. Which is not to say that Apple isn’t making headway. It is. As I noted here recently, Mac sales rose 31 percent year over year for the month of January, according to NPD, and the reason was likely improved iMac availability. But again, that was in the U.S. To reach supply-demand equilibrium overseas, Apple’s got to ramp up iMac production even more.
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