The worldwide rollout of the Apple iPad 2 could be affected by the ongoing disaster in Japan, several analysts warned. According to research firm iSuppli, at least five key components of the iPad 2 are manufactured by Japanese companies, including the electronic compass, the touch screen overlay glass, and the DRAM – dynamic random access memory – units.
"While some of these suppliers reported that their facilities were undamaged, delivery of components from all of these companies is likely to be impacted at least to some degree by logistical issues now plaguing most Japanese industries in the quake zone," iSuppli's Andrew Rassweiler notes in a blog post. "Suppliers are expected to encounter difficulties in getting raw materials supplied and distributed as well as in shipping out products."
Meanwhile, James Song, an analyst at Daewoo Securities, told Reuters that Japan provides 57 percent of the world's wafers. (A wafer, basically, is something used to make circuits.) "Should the Japan crisis be prolonged, I expect a shortage of electronic parts in the second quarter," Song said.
The iPad 2, which was released in the US earlier this month and is already on a 4- to 5-week back order, has won rave reviews from critics. "My friends, I’m telling you: just that much improvement in thinness, weight and speed transforms the experience. We’re not talking about a laptop or a TV, where you don’t notice its thickness while in use. This is a tablet. You are almost always holding it. Thin and light are unbelievably important for comfort and the overall delight," wrote David Pogue of the Times.
Check out our full iPad 2 review roundup here. In the meantime, if you haven't done so already – and 16,000 of you already have – sign up for the Innovation newsletter, which is emailed out every Wednesday morning.