eBay resellers score huge profits on iPad 2 sales

Pocket between $200 and $400 above retail price by selling hot tablet at auction

Resellers are making hundreds by listing Apple's iPad 2 on eBay, where the selling prices have averaged as high as 53 per cent above retail, the auction giant said today.

According to data released Thursday by eBay, the average selling price of a 16GB Wi-Fi iPad 2 since its launch three weeks ago has been $697, $198 over Apple's retail price. That represents a profit of 40 per cent.

The more expensive 64GB iPad 2 has put even more money in resellers' pockets. The average auction price of the 64GB Wi-Fi model has reached $963, or 53 per cent above retail, while the 64GB Wi-Fi/3G iPad 2 averaged $1,235, 49 per cent higher than the list price of $829.

"Supply of the iPad 2 is short, and there's a great deal of uncertainty about whether Apple can meet the demand in the short or medium run," said Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research, in explaining the high prices.

This month's earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and the continued problems at one of the country's nuclear power plants, has caused some analysts to bet that the disasters will affect Apple's supply chain.

As Gottheil pointed out, Apple's iPad 2 remains in very short supply in the U.S. and in the more than two dozen other countries where it's gone on sale thus far.

On Apple's U.S. online store, the delay between ordering and shipping currently stands at three to four weeks. The same delay is posted on the French, German, Italian and U.K. editions of Apple's e-store. The company's retail stores have also been plagued with long lines of customers and short supplies of the tablet.

Apple sells the iPad 2 for between $499 and $699 for the Wi-Fi model, and between $629 and $829 for the Wi-Fi/3G version of the tablet.

"Anecdotally, the people standing in lines aren't necessarily buying it for themselves," said Gottheil. "They went out in order to make a little business."

On eBay, the entry-level 16GB Wi-Fi iPad 2 and the most-expensive 64GB 3G model are the top sellers, accounting for 30 per cent and 23 per cent of the total, respectively. The middle-of-the-road 32GB iPad 2 has been the poorest seller, accounting for only 26 per cent of all sales, compared to 37 per cent each for the 16GB and 64GB models.

eBay's data comes from the sales of approximately 12,000 iPad 2s on the auction site.

While people are paying hundreds above list price for an iPad 2, the original iPad remains available on Apple's online store. There, a 16GB 3G tablet runs $529, $100 less than the iPad 2, while the 64GB 3G device costs $729.

"There's a real issue getting the iPad 2," said Gottheil. "That's because its just very appealing."

Short supplies of the iPad 2 have resulted in resellers making hundreds on eBay.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His e-mail address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

Read more about e-business in Computerworld's E-business Topic Center.

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