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Apple forewarns resellers of product dry spell

Apple Computer last week advised its reseller channel to immediately submit all orders for end-of-quarter purchases, sources said. The company went on to warn dealers that all CPU inventory (with the exception of Power Macs) is expected to be "sold-out" by March 27th and a product dry spell would occur for approximately the first three weeks in April.

While this situation is typically indicative of imminent product revisions, reliable sources said the dry spell simply reflects the beginning of the educational buying season. For the next several weeks, the majority of units rolling off Apple's manufacturing lines will be used to fill large, educational-based orders—significantly limiting supply to distributors.

The dry spell already appears to be affecting orders for the company's eMac all-in-one consumer desktop. Several customers who placed orders over the last two weeks have received a followup email from the Apple Store, notifying them of delays. "Due to an unexpected supply delay, we are unable to ship the following item(s) by the date that you were originally quoted," the email reads, in part.

As a result, the Apple Store is reportedly offering incentives and freebies to customers who are disgruntled over the unforeseen delay. When one AppleInsider reader called to cancel his eMac order, he was offered an iPod accessory of his choice, cables, and other available accessories. Since the customer did not own an iPod, he eventually settled on a $30 credit towards his order.

The Apple Store is currently reflecting an additional 1 week delay on the eMac orders.

Meanwhile, sources continued to express doubt that Apple would introduce any new products prior to the close of the fiscal quarter on March 31st. Previous reports from reliable sources suggested that Power Mac G5 units had been delayed until at least the last week of March, with PowerBooks arriving no earlier than the final week of April.

It appears that, for the same reasons delaying the companies dual-processor Xserves, Power Mac G5 revisions may not ship until much later in April. However—dependent on how the situation shapes up—Apple could introduce the product-line on a Tuesday before the company reveals its Q2 fiscal results, sources said.

As of Tuesday, Ingram Micro, Apple's largest distributor, was showing inventory of approximately 630 Dual 1.8 and 2.0 Power Mac G5 units each, and approximately 250 single processor units. Apple displays, which are expected to be adorned in aluminum alongside the Power Mac revisions, are currently in much shorter supply. Combined, orders for the 20 and 23-inch Cinema displays have amounted to 1,300 backorders.