By Paul Thomasch
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Apple Inc will stick to plans to roll out its newest iPad on Friday to 25 more markets, including France and the United Kingdom, even as it fails to meet the high demand for the gadget in the United States.
Apple, in affirming its international plans, did not provide any hard figures for U.S. sales since the newest iPad, a thinner and faster version that features two cameras for video chat, was introduced on March 11. Prices start at $499.
A week and a half after the iPad 2 went on sale, hundreds of customers continue to line up outside retail stores with many being turned away due to low supply. Some would-be buyers have expressed frustration at how difficult it has been to secure one of the wildly popular tablet computers. Some analysts have speculated that Apple misjudged demand, given the widespread sellouts.
The wait time for an iPad ordered online is now 4-5 weeks.
"We're experiencing amazing demand for iPad 2 in the U.S., and customers around the world have told us they can't wait to get their hands on it," Chief Executive Steve Jobs said in a statement on Tuesday. "We appreciate everyone's patience and we are working hard to build enough iPads for everyone."
Apple's Tim Cook, who is overseeing day-to-day business while Jobs is on a medical leave of absence, has long been responsible for sales and operations, while being lauded for managing the company's complex and far-flung supply chain.
The first iPad -- which went on sale a year ago -- sold 300,000 units on the first day, 500,000 in the first week, and crossed the 1 million unit mark in 28 days.
Apple plans to roll out the new iPad on Friday to countries including Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, and Spain.
Considering the sellouts in the United States, analysts including Ticonderoga's Brian White had raised the question of whether Apple would possibly delay the rollout in other markets.
In addition to Friday's rollout, however, Apple said that all models of iPad 2 will be available in Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore and additional countries in April.
Analysts are also concerned that Apple will face shortages of key components for the iPad 2 because of the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan earlier this month.
Several key components in the new version of Apple's popular iPad tablet PC come from Japan, including the battery and the flash memory used to store music and video on the device, according to research firm IHS iSuppli [ID:nN17232882].
Apple delayed sales of the iPad 2 in Japan, but has said that had nothing to do with any component shortages.
Shares of Apple were up $.71 at $340 on Nasdaq.
(Reporting by Paul Thomasch; Editing by Derek Caney and Gunna Dickson)