Why are British consumers having to wait for their Apple delivery, asks Rhodri Marsden

I remember exactly what I was doing when I heard the news, although that's not such an amazing feat of memory as I was just staring at a computer screen for something like the 6,000th day in succession.

But nothing, not even counselling and an energy-boosting cereal bar, could have prepared me for the shock. Up until that point, the future had looked rosy. Apple's new iPad would descend like some tablet-shaped angel of hope at the end of April, creative industries would experience a miraculous upswing in their fortunes and our computing lives would be radically improved for evermore. After all, our phones are way too small for browsing the web. Our desktop machines can't be slipped into a holdall and carried across town without physical trauma and our laptops have a lid, for crying out loud. A lid! Preposterous.

But a solemn statement from Apple was to shatter this fragile sense of calm. "We have made the difficult decision to postpone the international launch of iPad by one month, until the end of May," it read. "We know that many international customers waiting to buy an iPad will be disappointed by this news," it continued, massively understating the face-clawing anguish that would now surely be spreading across the globe.

The reason given is the seemingly insatiable demand for iPads across the USA, with 500,000 units shifted in just a fortnight. Corroborative stories emerge from California, with frustrated geeks searching Silicon Valley in vain, credit cards burning holes in their pockets. One imagines fistfights in stores, remeniscent of battles between irate fathers in the 1980s over a last remaining Cabbage Patch doll.

We should, Apple insist in a tone reminiscent of a Communist edict, be resigned to our own misfortune and be delighted at its success. (They, of course, decide what constitutes a success.). Apple does have previous form regarding international delays. The US launch of the iTunes store in April 2003 was heralded as the future of online music but we had to wait until the following June. And the iPhone was kept maddeningly out of reach for five months until it finally appeared in Britain during November 2007.

But this time our envy is intensified by sneaky iPad imports. Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, delayed at the airport by clouds of volcanic ash after a nuclear summit, was pictured yesterday playing with his. And a peek on eBay reveals a number of entrepreneurs offering boxed iPads at $200 markups, exploiting our ravenous hunger for a scaled-up iPhone.

But while most of us can shrug off our mild annoyance and get back to work, outlandish theories have inevitably started to surface about the 'real' reason for the delay. They are, in descending order of likelihood:

20,000-1: Apple are re-evaluting their whole business model. There have been vociferous ideological objections to the iPad from software developers, who resent Apple's tight control over their online store, the only way to transfer apps to the device.

15,000-1: They're busy adding USB ports. Those who are astounded that you can't attach, say, a printer to the iPad are probably the same ones who derided the iMac for having no floppy drive.

10,000-1: They're sourcing thousands of pieces of chamois. Despite the iPad's "oleophobic" they are accumulating grubby finger marks. Mac-books and iPhones come with a piece of cloth. So why not the iPad?

5,000-1: In depth talks with the Israeli government. At least 10 travellers from the USA to Israel have been relieved of their iPads because the gadget's Wi-Fi has not yet been approved for use on Israeli territory.

2,000-1: They're writing a clock app. Unusual omissions from the iPad include a calculator and an alarm clock.

1,000-1: They're designing a diagram showing how to safely operate the thing. The iPad isn't that light rotates annoyingly on flat surfaces and tends to slide off your lap. So could we avoid curvature of the spine by being shown the correct iPad stance?

500-1: They're waiting until winter, when the weather's cooler. One New York iPad owner took his outside on a balmy spring day, only for it to display the message "iPad needs to cool down before you can use it". A spell in the fridge did the trick – but how would it fare on the beaches of the Med?

100-1: They're tweaking important apps. Apple's Powerpoint equivalent, Keynote, and its word processing app, Pages, have been demonstrated to lose odd bits of data when transferred from desktop computers. Annoying. But hopefully solvable.

50-1: They're improving the Wi-Fi. The biggest gripe from customers has been fluctuating internet connections. Apple have offered a lot of advice – including, notably, "move nearer to your router" – but users are crossing their fingers for a software update to address the issue.

2-1 on: There are simply not enough iPads. In spite of all the above, the fact remains that millions of people just really want to get their hands on one. Fortunately, orders are going to be taken from 10 May.