Apple UK has launched a wave of TV, billboard and magazine advertising to support the release of its 12-inch and 17-inch PowerBooks - but the 17-inch model remains unavailable.

The situation is not unique to the UK. Announced in January, the product was scheduled to ship last month. Now, sources report that the company is facing unexpected production difficulties. Apple's Web site reports a 3-5 week wait for 17-inch PowerBooks ordered online.

With its advertising, Apple UK is clearly working to build visibility for the product, but its lack of availability could soften the company's marketing punch.

IDC senior analyst Roger Kay told MacCentral: "Apple's announcements generate a lot of excitement, a lot of buzz. But when people go to buy it, and they can't get it, Apple loses some of its punch."

US reports on PowerBook Central's Web site say some customers have been told they'll have to wait until March 24 for their new notebook.

The company has been taking advance orders since January 2003, when the product was announced. Apple's 12-inch PowerBook is now available. The 12-inch PowerBook is manufactured by ECS, according to DigiTimes. DigiTimes also claims that Compal (Taiwan's second-largest notebook manufacturer) produces the 17-inch machine.

Compal saw February 2003 sales slide month-on-month by 19 per cent to NT$8.843 billion, which it blamed on fewer working days in the month. Despite this, the company's sales were up 36 per cent year-on-year. Company president Ray Chen is optimismistic for the second half of its financial year, if "a possible war in Iraq could end by the second quarter", said Taiwan's Commercial Times.

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