Japanese earthquake could hit iPad 2 supplies

I think we need to show some perspective here. The impact of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami is shocking, a disaster that few of us can even imagine, despite the harrowing images we see on our TV. In comparison, the supply of gadgets to the rest of the world isn't on the same scale. But the disaster will affect technology worldwide and in the short term, Apple's iPad 2.

According to Crave, iSuppli has published a report outlining how the aftermath of the earthquake may cause supply shortages for the iPad 2, primarily based on the components used within the device.

'The IHS iSuppli teardown analysis of the iPad 2 so far has been able to identify five parts sourced from Japanese suppliers,' it said. 'NAND flash from Toshiba Corp., dynamic random access memory (DRAM) made by Elpida Memory Inc., an electronic compass from AKM Semiconductor, the touch screen overlay glass likely from Asahi Glass Co. and the system battery from Apple Japan Inc.'

That's an issue for Apple. iSuppli claims sourcing NAND Flash and DRAM from alternative suppliers shouldn't be a headache for Apple. But the compass, battery and glass supply that could prove more problematic: 'The calibration of electronic compasses is tricky for a number of reasons,' said Jérémie Bouchaud, director and principal analyst for MEMS and sensors at IHS. 'Compasses are sensitive to electromagnetic interference. Furthermore, the iPad 2's compass works in close co-ordination with the tablet's accelerometer and gyroscope. This makes it impossible to simply replace one manufacturer's compass with another.'

With shortages of stock already reported in the US and a possible lack of parts for new stock, there is speculation as to whether Apple will stick to its original 25th March launch date in the UK. With no pre-order process in place as yet for UK buyers, you do wonder if the launch might quietly slip for here and the 25 other countries expecting stock on the same day.

If the date does slip, it's not likely to be a short delay - and it's unlikely to be the only mobile gadget hit by the tragedy in Japan.

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