Low iPad Pro stock – new models, or just coronavirus impact?

Low iPad Pro stock across the US, Canada and Europe could signal that new models are on the way. Apple tends to run down production of existing models ahead of the launch of replacements, making limited availability and extended shipping times a frequent clue to upcoming models.

However, it’s equally possible in this case that limited stock is simply a result of reduced production in China due to the impact of the coronavirus …

Bloomberg reports the shortages.

The iPad Pro tablet is seeing limited availability at stores in major cities in the U.S., Australia and Europe, according to a review of Apple’s website on Monday. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro with 512 gigabytes of storage and no cellular connectivity is sold out at all Apple stores in the Los Angeles area.

That model and other versions are sold out at many stores in New York City as well.

Some Apple store employees said they started noticing reduced iPad Pro inventory in the last week. They asked not to be identified discussing private product information.

As the piece notes, iPad Pro models are not the only products with low stock, but this simply reflects Apple struggling to keep up with demand.

AirPods Pro earbuds and built-to-order Mac computers are also continuing to show shipping delays, and some Apple Watch Series 3 and Series 5 models are listed as unavailable to buy online. The Watch Series 3 and in-demand AirPods Pro had been constrained even before the coronavirus.

Production of Apple products and components has been heavily hit by the outbreak. Key iPhone assembler Foxconn, however, expects to be back at full capacity by the end of the month.

Apple had no comment to make on the report, but did warn last month that the impact of the coronavirus meant that product supply would be constrained, and consequently wouldn’t hit its guidance for the current quarter.

That said, we are are expecting the iPad Pro to get a refresh this year, and some reports point to this month, so it remains possible that low iPad Pro stock reflects an imminent launch as well as supply constraints.

In terms of what to expect, we’re unlikely to see any significant change in the design. Reports so far point to a triple-camera module, including time-of-flight sensor; A13X processor; and a new Smart Keyboard with backlighting, trackpad or both.

Even if there is a refresh this month, it may be that it doesn’t deliver all the promised goodies: we’d expect Apple to launch a 5G version after the iPhone 12 launch, so some suggest we could see iPad Pro updates in both the spring and the fall.

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