Seventy-two hours into the official launch of the latest iPad in the UAE,  retailers are still waiting for the rush of customers. If this trend continues to the end of the week, it would be the first time a high-profile launch by Apple has missed its mark, according to industry sources.
Official distributors were unwilling to get into specifics, while a couple did admit that the initial demand was running slightly below expectations. “But it’s way too early to suggest a specific pattern has emerged and things could change overnight,” said an official at one distributor. “A lot of potential buyers could yet be making up their minds about when to buy.”
The basic model of the new iPad carries a retail price of Dh2,099 in stores, and Apple has also started offering it through its online Apple Store for UAE buyers. But a standout characteristic of Apple’s past launches was that consumers never waited to make up their minds. All that was needed was enough of the products to be available and they found willing buyers.
“It could be that the majority of Apple fanatics here could have already bought it through the grey channels in the last two months and that sucked out quite a significant portion of the demand ahead of the official launch,” said Ashish Panjabi, chief operating officer at Jacky’s Electronics. The retailer is not an official Apple distributor and has been selling the latest iPads  sourced from the grey market. “Currently, iPads make up more than 80 per cent of our Apple sales and demand for the new iPad is running neck and neck with the iPad 2,” he said.
That is a fact to consider. In the past, it was a given that a new product would outsell its predecessor if enough units were available in store. Official distributors also confirm that their sales of the iPad 2 have not taken a dip. Moreover, there isn’t that marked a price differential between the two versions.
Did the compatibility issue — the new iPad cannot operate on the local 4G LTE network — be holding back buyers? According to Panjabi, that can’t be the case. “I don’t think too many buyers would make it the single influencing factor in their purchase decision,” he said. “The 3G experience  is enough for them to go by. “What could be an issue for some buyers is that the official shipments do not feature the FaceTime feature while the grey imports do.” Meanwhile, official distributors are hopeful that the tide will turn in their favour over the next couple of weeks. They cite the pricing on the model and its variants as being just right to get the shoppers asking for the products at the shops. Once they do that and get their first glimpse of the higher resolution Retina Display to do the rest.