Apple Delays IPad 2 Release in Japan in Fallout From Earthquakes, Tsunami

Apple Inc. (AAPL) is delaying the release of the iPad 2 tablet computer in Japan in the aftermath of earthquakes and a tsunami in the Asian country.

The company had planned to release the computer in Japan on March 25. It hasn’t set a new date, Natalie Kerris, a spokeswoman for Cupertino, California-based Apple, said today in a telephone interview. The company also has closed a retail store in the quake-damaged city of Sendai.

The iPad line is the fastest-selling technology product in history, measured by revenue, according to Creative Strategies Inc. Apple’s sales in Japan accounted for about $4 billion last year, or 6.1 percent of total revenue. The impact from the 9.0 magnitude earthquake on Apple will be minimal this quarter, according to estimates from Piper Jaffray Cos.

“We are delaying the launch of the iPad 2 in Japan while the country and our team focuses on recovering from the recent disaster,” Kerris said. “Our hearts go out to the people of Japan, including our employees and their families who have been impacted by this terrible tragedy.”

The release of the iPad 2 in 25 other countries on March 25 is on track, Kerris said. The fallout from the earthquake will have less than a 1 percent impact on sales in the quarter that ends this month, said Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray in Minneapolis. The impact would be less than 3 percent in the June quarter, even in a worst-case scenario, he said.

Employees in Japan

All of Apple’s employees in Japan have been accounted for, said the company, the world’s biggest technology business by market value.

Many manufacturers in the country have shut operations and halted production as they deal with the earthquake, which has been responsible for thousands of deaths.

Toshiba Corp. (6502), which makes 35 percent of the Nand flash memory chips that store information in mobile phones, tablets such as the iPad and digital cameras, shut its factories after Tokyo Electric Power Co. requested companies cut electricity consumption.

Apple fell $8.13, or 2.3 percent, to $345.43 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares have gained 7.1 percent this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Adam Satariano in San Francisco at asatariano1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Thomas Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net

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