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Tuesday, July 06, 2010, 05:05 am PT (08:05 am ET)

Apple struggles to meet iPhone 4 demand as iPad availability improves

Constraints in overseas supplies have prompted one prominent Wall Street analyst to lower iPhone 4 sales estimates for the current quarter, while Apple's monthly iPad orders surpassed 2 million units in July.

Kaufman Bros. lowers iPhone 4 sales projections

Analyst Shaw Wu said to investors Tuesday that he was shifting iPhone assumptions to later quarters due to the "high likelihood" that screen supply constraints and inventory drawdown will impact shipments over the next two quarters. He noted that Wall Street consensus calls for 8.5 million iPhone sales in the quarter that ended with June, but he believes the number will be closer to 7.5 million — down from his previous prediction of 9 million.

If that proves true, it would represent a significant decrease from last quarter's iPhone sales, when Apple shipped a record 8.75 million handsets.

But in the September quarter, Wu has slightly increased his forecast of iPhone sales to 10.5 million, up from 10.4 million. He said checks with overseas suppliers have indicated that availability will improve in the August timeframe, offset by about a million of remaining channel inventory that is expected to be drawn down.

Wu still expects Apple to ship 40 million iPhones in calendar 2010.

"The reason why we believe the inventory drawdown this time will be more impactful than previous drawdowns, is because this product transition involves two entirely new products: the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS," he wrote. "The new iPhone 3GS with 8 GB of storage is an entirely new model compared to the previous-generation 3GS with 16 GB and 32 GB of storage. With the new storage capacity, this is not as simple as taking the previous product and marking the price down."

iPad demand remains strong

Wu also raised his forecast for iPad sales to 3.5 million in the June quarter, up from 3.3 million. He also expects sales of 10 million units in calendar 2010, up from 9.7 million. He said checks indicated stronger-than-expected demand for Apple's tablet, which will be offset by still constrained, but improving availability.

Signs of greater demand and improved availability were also reported Tuesday by Taiwanese industry publication DigiTimes. It said that Apple's monthly iPad orders to manufacturers in Taiwan surpassed 2 million units in the month of July, and the company is expected to maintain that level in the foreseeable future.

The report said Apple likely ordered around 2.3 million iPads, with between 58 percent and 60 percent of those for the 3G-capable model, and the remaining orders for the Wi-Fi-only hardware. The repot noted that the orders come despite the fact that the Wi-Fi models had greater sales in the first half of 2010.

In late June, Apple announced that it had sold 3 million iPads in the products first 80 days of availability. That came just three weeks after the company revealed that it had sold 2 million iPads in the product's first two months.