Yeesh, it's 2004 all over again. Remember when all the rumors about Apple's flash-based iPod indicated that the company was building up massive supplies of the device ahead of its debut at Macworld Expo so as to avoid the weeks- and even months-long delays and frustrated demand that marked the introduction of the iPod mini at last year's show? Well, TechWeb News reports that iPod shuffles, which were available "immediately" after the Stevenote, are now showing lead times of up to four weeks on new orders at Apple's own online store. According to AppleInsider, analyst Steve Milunovich over at Merrill Lynch isn't surprised; he figures that Apple will be facing "strong demand" that will "outstrip the available supply" of "1.2 to 1.5 million units per quarter." And since legend has it that one Apple retail store sold its entire stock of 2,000 units within four hours (and since Apple is the long-reigning King of Unfulfilled Demand), we suppose we shouldn't be surprised.
So yeah, we're looking at a product backlog approaching miniPodesque proportions, but the good news is that people are still ordering the bejeezus out of the lil' buddies. Consider sales at Amazon.com, for instance; faithful viewer Bill Palmer (yes, that Bill Palmer) notes over at iPodGarage that the iPod shuffle currently heads Amazon's list of the top "Early Adopter" electronics products, which is updated daily and "based entirely on purchase patterns." The 1 GB iPod shuffle is nestled snugly in first place (and has been for at least a couple of days), while the 512 MB iPod shuffle is perched in the Number Two spot. Not too shabby, especially since no other MP3 player even managed to crack the top ten.
However, it gets even better. Bill leaves out a few interesting details-- such as the fact that while Apple's two iPod shuffles are numbers 1 and 2 on the list, the iPod shuffle Sport Case is number 3. And the iPod shuffle Armband is number 5. Oh, and hey, lookee here; what's this at number 6? Why, it's the iPod shuffle Dock Connector. Yes, kiddies, fully half of the top ten (and better yet, five of the top six) "Early Adopters" electronics products at Amazon are iPod shuffles or other Apple products directly related to them.
Meanwhile, the only non-Apple players to crack the top twenty are Creative's 512 MB MuVo TX FM and MuVo Slim 512 MB Silver, which show up at numbers 11 and 19, respectively. Gee, wasn't the CEO of Creative the one who recently told Channel NewsAsia that the iPod shuffle was "a big let-down" because it's "five generations older" than Creative's offerings and that "the whole industry will just laugh at it" because it's a "four-year-old product"? And didn't he say that the iPod shuffle is therefore "a non-starter to begin with"? Because it's funny, but based on Amazon's Early Adopter rankings, we're getting the distinct sense that the shufflePod isn't just starting, but starting strong-- and way stronger than Creative's own offerings, despite the fact that Creative's players are available right now, while the shufflePods are labeled "in stock soon" and "order now to get in line."
Frankly, we can't wait to hear how Creative-Dude is going to spin things when the first quarterly sales numbers are released. Backpedaling? "What I meant to say was..."? Demands for a recount? Or will he just bust out crying? Place your bets now, people!