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Retina MacBook still constrained by shipping delays

Gregg Keizer | July 20, 2015
Lightest MacBook remains backordered two to three weeks on Apple's e-store.

3up macbook primary

More than three months after its on-sales debut, Apple's Retina-equipped MacBook laptop still remains in short supply, with orders delayed two to three weeks before shipping, according to the company's website.

Apple introduced the MacBook March 9 and started selling the notebook on April 10. The $1,299 resurrection of a dumped brand name boasts a 12-in. high-resolution screen and weighs in at 2 lbs., 15% less than the previous lightweight winner in the firm's mobile line, the 11-in. MacBook Air.

The laptop has been panned for being too slow and for offering just a single port -- a USB-C jack so new that few devices support it -- and applauded for pointing the way to a future of even lighter, thinner notebooks.

But it's also been in short supply since it hit Apple's online store. On the e-market, the MacBook's ship date quickly went from two-to-three business days (at the April 10 opening) to three to four weeks (by the end of that day) to four to six weeks (by April 13).

Those times later improved to the current two to three weeks, where they remain.

Potential buyers of the MacBook have also been pushed to order online. Checks today of Apple retail stores in the Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City and Portland, Ore. metro areas again failed to find any that had the new notebook in stock and available for immediate pickup after placing an online order.

That emphasis on online ordering was new for Apple. The company's head of retail and online sales, Angela Ahrendts, told employees that the online-only sales approach was a "very unique situation" that would not become the new norm. Since then, Apple has begun selling the Apple Watch -- which was also restricted to online orders along with the MacBook -- in some stores.

Backorders are not unusual for Apple products, but Macs typically reach a supply-demand balance faster than the the three-months-and-counting of the MacBook. One of the recent exceptions was the redesigned Mac Pro, which launched in mid-December 2013 but quickly slipped to a February 2014 delivery. As late as April 2014, new Mac Pro orders were to be shipped four to five weeks later.

Apple has said nothing of the delays in getting MacBooks to customers -- the laptop went on sale after the end of first quarter, the most recent for which Apple has held a conference call with Wall Street -- but two weeks after its sales debut, Ahrendts boasted that, "[It's] one of the best MacBook launches that we've ever had" in a video to store workers.


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