Apple TV shortages fuel rollout rumours

The odds we'll see a new Apple TV at tomorrow's media event are better than 50 percent, but only just.

Shortages of the Apple TV are being reported across the country, fueling speculation that Apple will reveal a new Apple TV at its media event this week.

But are the reports of shortages accurate? MacRumors makes the bold claim that 98 percent of Apple’s retail stores are "out of stock" of the $99 Apple TV. The rumor site says it has been documenting these shortages for weeks, highlighting various stores around the country that list Apple's set-top box as out of stock and "Available Mar. 8" -- the day after Apple's media event.

It's not clear how MacRumors came up with the 98 percent figure. Assuming that the site checked the stores’ product availability listings online, the findings would still be suggestive. MacRumors notes that the lead times on replenishing Apple TV stock are listing as much as a week out, but rightly says that lead times are often that long when backfilling store stock anyway.

If I were gambling based on any of these claims, I'd say the odds we'll see a new Apple TV are better than 50 percent, but only just.

Assuming Apple has a new TV up its sleeves, the company's bigger trick is still a matter of clinching streaming content deals. As my colleague Jared Newman notes, Apple's reported attempts to strong-arm content providers in terms of pricing and availability have made it very difficult, if not impossible, for many of those providers to play along.

Matt Peckham writes for TIME and PCWorld. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+.

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