Could This Be The Reason Behind The Current iPad 2 Shortage?

As we just noted, according to analyst estimates, Apple may have shifted up to 500K iPad 2 units over the weekend. The real question is, where did they all go? – If analysts are correct, iPad 2 disappeared off shelves in the U.S. within 24 hours. That’s some feat for any company, even for Apple.

But what if the process was helped along? — By say … an arsenal of Russian buyers looking to export the devices to the country and sell them on the grey market? …

Now, of course, we’re not saying that’s where all of these iPad 2′s went on Friday through Saturday, but if this report by Chip Chick is anything to go by, and this report by TUAW last year, it could be a valid reason for the quick shortage.

It’s definitely an interesting read:

While standing in line waiting for the iPad 2 at the Apple flagship store in Manhattan yesterday, my colleague and I made a keen observation. Amongst the crowd waiting on the seemingly never ending line that wrapped around to Madison avenue and back, there were a myriad of people who just didn’t seem to fit in. Sure, there were the hipsters, the hardcore geeks, and many of the kind of people you would expect to be waiting for hours in the cold in order to ensure that they got an iPad 2 on the day of its release. But mixed in amongst the crowd there were also many folks who just didn’t seem like the type who would be waiting in line to buy an iPad 2 for themselves. Forget about them being the type to care about waiting in line for hours to get one. Something was definitely up… Later on that day our suspicions were more or less confirmed when we ran into a Russian gentleman who tried to buy our second 3G AT&T iPad off of us for a $200 premium. He explained to us that he is buying as many as possible to bring into Russia to sell.

Out of curiosity we listed our extra sealed iPad 2 on Craigslist to see what kind of offers and people we would attract. We listed it for $1100 and lo and behold on Saturday we received a second offer to purchase our iPad for $1050. This time it was yet another Russian entrepreneur. He admitted that he was also purchasing as many AT&T 3G iPads as possible to bring back to Moscow to sell. Of course, Verizon 3G iPads have less value overseas then their AT&T counterparts, because they can only work in the U.S.A. over 3G. However, AT&T’s iPads are unlocked and GSM, so they are compatible with most 3G GSM-based wireless networks worldwide. We were intrigued, and asked to hear more.

His tale of iPad 2 riches started at 6am on Friday, which is when he says he started waiting in line for the iPad 2. He explained that he had a total of “seven friends” waiting with him in line at the Apple flagship store, who each purchased iPad 2′s (specifically 3G AT&T iPad 2′s) for him. Hmmmm, so 8 x 2 = 16 iPads. He also said that afterward he waited in line to buy a second round. He then came back a third time with a disguise on (a baseball cap and glasses), and purchased a third round, and paid a guy in front of him in line $200 to get him another. Apparently he made all of his purchases from the flagship store. By the time he was ready to go for a 4th round, there were no 3G AT&T iPad 2′s left at any of the Apple NYC retail stores. So what to do? He told us he’ll be driving up north come March 25th for the Canadian launch to do the same thing all over again.

You can read the rest over at Chip Chick.