Heaven runs out of iPad 2s

Well, it seems as if it’s not just us poor mortals that want more iPads than we can get – the dead are suffering a shortage too.

According to local reports, Asian people mourning their dead are finding it hard to get hold of paper replicas to dedicate during the annual Qingming festival, which falls today.

Rather like the ancient Egyptians, many Chinese people believe that the dead have material needs and desires – and that dedicating a paper version of an item will give them the real thing in the afterlife.

The Qingming festival is the traditional time for tending the graves of loved ones. Originally, relatives swept tombs and placed offerings of food on the graves; but nowadays things have become a little more competitive. Mourners offer real consumer goods if they can afford them; paper versions if not.

According to Chinese state news service Xinghua, a package of two paper iPads and four iPhones currently costs six yuan, or about 90 cents – cheap at the price, if it keeps Grandma happy. A Macbook is about the same.

But, just like Apple, the vendors of some of these super-slim versions have found themselves caught on the hop. Shopkeeper Jeffrey Te, for example, told Reuters that he’d ordered 300 Ipad 2 paper replicas for the festival, but sold out almost immediately. All had a capacity of 888GB – eight being a particularly auspicious number.

There’s a particular shortage in Malaysia, apparently, where the dead are perceived as more technically literate; many Chinese fear that their ancestors wouldn’t know what to do with an iPad if they had one.

Meanwhile, the plastic-and-silicon version  continues to suffer delays. When it went on sale in Europe, it sold out within hours in German, French and British stores. It’s still not available in Malaysia – for the living, that is.