When a product sells out in minutes or hours, that’s usually a tell-tale sign of high demand. This has been the case with Apple and some other manufacturers. It can also be an indication of inadequate launch supply, which is usually a sign of bigger manufacturing woes. Seems the latter has been the case with Asustek’s hyped tablet-meets-netbook device dubbed Eee Pad Transformer.

German-language publication Netbooknews.de reports Asus hit a major manufacturing roadblock as they are unable to produce more than 10,000 Eee Pad Transformer units a month, substantially below the original target of at least 300,000 monthly units.

This jives with what upstream sources have been saying, that Apple’s rivals are pushing back their May tablet shipments due to the combined effects of the Japan crisis and the fact that Apple virtually gulped supplies of key components such as touch screen panels, NAND flash memory chips, gyroscope sensors from STMicroelectronics and AKM, cover glass, capacitors and chip-resistors and bismaleimide-triazine resin.

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That report specifically mentioned the Eee Pad Transformer as the victim of Apple’s strategically exercised buying power, in addition to Motorola’s Xoom and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab. Some watchers even suspect Apple paid extra to secure smooth shipments of key components. Asustek began selling Eee Pad Transformer in China in the second half of April. First reports described quick sellouts at Amazon, Best Buy and Target, but AllThingsD blamed that on low stock, not high demand. The Eee Pad Transformer stock won’t be replenished until mid-May, sources indicated. Electronista pegged US launch quantities of the Asustek tablet at just 100,000 units, which is but a half of the planned 200,000 units.

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