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[box] UPDATE: the iPad 2 arrives on April 28. Read more. Official pricing here. [/box]

We are delaying the launch of the iPad 2 in Japan while the country and our teams focus on recovering from the recent disaster

That was a month ago. But with with the end of the self-restraint period that many are calling for –including the Prime Minister, will we see the tablet in the hands of Japanese soon?

Coming soon

According to the chatter, it’s probable. The iPad2, originally planned for March 25, could either land in Japan next week –in line with Hong Kong, South Korea and Singapore– or in mid-May.

Two potential dates? It’s still a rumor and neither SoftBank or Apple would confirm anything, as usual. I won’t go into the overused “people in the know” formula, but I think we’re close.

My bet would be mid-May.

Supply chain disruption

With ‘Made in Japan’ all over NAND flash chips, DRAM chips, electronic compasses and, possibly, some touch screens overlays, analyst firm IHS iSuppli has been warning of potential iPad2 shortages more than a month ago.

Whilst the iPad is assembled in China, it’s hard to overlook the impact of the destruction -or temporary suspension of production- of factories and the logistical difficulties inherent to the aftermath of one of the worst natural disasters in recent memory.

Cupertino denies supply issues altogether and the apparent continuity in the the sales -demand just outstripping supply- would make some believe everything remained normal.

My take? With companies like Toshiba, Nikon, Sony, Fujitsu, Panasonic or Hitachi scaling down production and more than a thousand aftershocks which might be keeping some semiconductor factories shut down, Apple’s supply chain couldn’t not have been disrupted. The sourcing couldn’t easily have been redirected towards other countries –think South Korea and Taiwan. Most probably, Chinese factories had a confortable buffer of parts during the launch period and the last month allowed for corrections in the sourcing process. The current aggressive approach –from offering upfront cash paiements to suppliers to agreeing to price hikes to ensure provision–  shows Apple is willing to do whatever it takes.

Add this fact: about 5 per cent of the company’s revenue are coming from Japan according to the Dec. 2010 quarterly report. That’s USD 1.4bn.

Hard to overlook. The iPad2 cannot be too far from the shores of Japan.

[box] UPDATE: Tim Cook confirms trouble with suppliers, stays mum on Japan iPad2 release date. Read more.[/box]

Help Japan

Don’t misread me, the decision of Apple not to sell the iPad2 as scheduled in Japan was obviously not linked with pure logistics, the company was and remains committed to help during this time of mourning. It has actually done a lot for the relief support, either via employees going the extra mile -amazing story- in various stores across the country or via the official iTunes compilation ‘Songs for Japan‘.

You should continue to help too.

Mobile in Japan supports our amazing friends at #quakebook who created the beautiful 2:46: Aftershocks: Stories from the Japan Earthquake. Buy it on Amazon (US store: http://amzn.to/quakebook & UK store: http://amzn.to/qbuk). 100% of your money goes to the Japan Red Cross society.

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