Apple runs out of most iPads

March 12, 2011, 5:12 PM UTC

The only model left at Apple’s Fifth Ave. flagship store Saturday was the $829 Verizon 3G

Photo: Shot at NYC's Fifth Ave. store with a demo iPad 2

Second-day iPad 2 stories were dominated by reports of long lines and product shortages, some of them clearly colored by the reporter’s personal disappointment.

Mark Gurman’s piece about “poor retail launch planning” posted at 9to5 Mac, for example, might not have been as critical of Apple (AAPL) if, after waiting 10 hours in line at the company’s Century City store, he hadn’t watched a buyer in front of him let friends jump the queue and clean out the last of the model Gurman had set his heart on.

New York City’s Fifth Avenue retail outlet — which prides itself as the world’s best-supplied Apple Store — ran out of all but the 64 GB Verizon 3G at 11:00 p.m. Friday, 6 hours after it began admitting a crowd that Apple estimated (unofficially) at between 1,200 and 2,000.

“You should have seen it,” one staffer said the next day. “The minute we announced that we only had Verizon iPads left, half the line disappeared.”

One reason for the lack of interest in the Verizon (VZ) model, this staffer speculated, was the high percentage of first-day buyers who were there to supply gray-market iPads for re-sale overseas. Because iPads built for AT&T (T) use the GSM protocol — the prevailing global standard for cell phones — and are sold “unlocked,” they can work in most foreign countries simply by replacing the SIM card.

By Saturday morning, there were no lines in front of the big glass cube on Fifth Ave., although there was a steady stream of foreign-language speaking customers who, judging from the haste with which they dashed to the door, hadn’t gotten word that all the GSM iPad 2s had been sold.

Rumors that fresh supplies were on the way could not be confirmed. For customers willing to order from Apple’s online store, shipping times are currently listed as 2-3 weeks for some models and 3-4 weeks for others.

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[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]