Apple Confirms iPad Arrival In April

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Apple has confirmed that the iPad is to go on sale in the US on 3 April, although British users will have to wait until later in the month to get the device

Despite fears over possible delays, Apple has today confirmed that the Wi-Fi-only model of its iPad tablet will go on sale in the United States from 3 April, while British users will have to wait until late April for the Wi-Fi and 3G version of the device.

Apple also took the opportunity to confirm that from 12 March, American customers can pre-order both Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + 3G models from Apple’s online store or reserve a Wi-Fi model to pick up on 3 April at an Apple retail store.

“iPad is something completely new,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We’re excited for customers to get their hands on this magical and revolutionary product and connect with their apps and content in a more intimate, intuitive and fun way than ever before.”

There was little surprise on the pricing front, with the Wi-Fi model going for a suggested retail price of $499 (£330) for 16GB, $599 (£397) for 32GB, and $699 (£463) for 64GB.

The 3G equipped iPad meanwhile will cost $629 (£416) for 16GB, $729 (£483) for 32GB and $829 (£549) for 64GB.

However, it is worth remembering that these are US prices only though, and Apple said it would provide specific international pricing in April. Credit Suisse analyst Bill Shope recently suggested that Apple may be “nimble” on its price point, if customers refuse to flock to the device during its initial rollout.

As part of the launch of the iPad, Apple said it will also officially release the free iBooks app for the iPad that gives the iPad e-book functionality.

The iBooks app will be available on 3 April as a free download, along with Apple’s iBookstore (via iTunes). The iBookstore will feature books from both major and independent publishers, including Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, Macmillan Publishers, Penguin Group and Simon & Schuster, Apple said.

The April delivery date is later than was predicted by the Apple rumour mill, which has been speculating that the iPad would arrive on 26 March. During his keynote when he launched the iPad on 27 January, Jobs said the Wi-Fi only iPad would hit store shelves in 60 days, followed by the 3G model 30 days after that.

There has also been speculation that Apple’s release of the iPad could initially be limited due to unnamed issues within its manufacturing pipeline.

Canaccord Adams analyst Peter Misek wrote that Apple was experiencing “an unspecified production problem at the iPad’s manufacturer, Hon Hai Precision,” that would “limit the launch region to the US and the number of units available to roughly 300k in the month of March.” Although the launch could also potentially be delayed until April, Misek added.