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Apple is fully prepared for AirPods launch demand for the first time

Apple's new AirPods 3

For the first time, Apple appears to have enough stock of the new AirPods 3 at launch to sate demand, in an incredibly challenging manufacturing, shipping, and delivery environment.

Initial orders for the iPhone 13 range saw ever increasing delivery times as Apple worked to keep up with demand. It was unexpectedly the same with the new 14-inch MacBook Pro and revised 16-inch MacBook Pro.

And then as predicted, it was very much the same with the Apple Watch Series 7, which is even now seeing delivery dates heading close to Christmas.

However, for the first time since AirPods original launch in 2016, the new AirPods are not significantly backordered. Even the AirPods Max were supply-constrained for a month after launch.

At the "Unleashed" event, Apple said it would be taking preorders immediately, and that the AirPods 3 would be arriving "next week." It wasn't more precise than that, but at time of writing, all preorders are consistently showing that they will arrive on October 26.

That's for the plain versions, ones without engraving. If ordered with engraving, the delivery date is November 5 through November 9.

This is more than for other AirPods, though. An engraved AirPods 2 ordered at time of writing would arrive October 22 through October 26.

Engraved AirPods Pro would arrive on November 1. And all color varieties of the AirPods Max would arrive October 28 or October 29, if engraved.

That compares to when the AirPods Max were launched in December 2020, and delivery dates began slipping to as late as March 2021.

It's not only a question of physically manufacturing enough to meet demand, or even of correctly predicting demand. Under Tim Cook, Apple has become famously good at predicting demand, and at times has even risked immense sums to book up air freight before its rivals.

That air freight and every other kind of shipping consideration has always been a factor in how, or whether, Apple could get enough of its products to the right places. Those issues have only worsened since the coronavirus pandemic, and political decisions like Brexit have had a domino effect on shipping across the world.