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3/5/2010
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Apple iPad Coming April 3

Reports of production problems apparently overcome, the Wi-Fi-only version of the Mac maker's touchscreen tablet will ship first.




Illustration from a patent application for Apple's tablet technology.
(click for image gallery)

Consumers will get to cast their votes on Apple’s iPad on April 3 when the Wi-Fi-only version of the tablet computer is scheduled to be available, a few days late.

Observers from Silicon Valley to Wall Street are fawning over the promise of the device, which they hope will be a game changer and not just another tablet PC.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has already weighed in on the iPad, saying "It’s a nice reader, but there’s nothing on the iPad I look at and say, "Oh, I wish Microsoft had done it.”

The first purchasers of the device won’t be Apple’s captive AT&T subscribers, but anyone with easy access to Wi-Fi. The Wi-Fi + 3G models of the iPad will be available in late April, according to Apple. U.S. customers may place their orders beginning on March 12 at Apple’s online store or reserve a Wi-Fi model at an Apple store.

The iPad has many of the popular features of Apple’s iPhone, offered exclusively in the U.S. by AT&T, and additional features that are still untested.

“iPad is something completely new,” said Apple CEO Steve Jobs in announcing the availability dates Friday. “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 had been reports of production problems for weeks, including screen glitches, and now that Apple is missing its earlier promised date of “late March” the company also misses the “April Fool’s” date, too. A few days tardiness, however, isn’t considered much of a detriment in a business in which delivery of handsets can be months late.

The iPad will debut with 12 apps specially designed for it including Apple’s iBookstore, which isn’t expected to be compatible with the flock of e-books already on the marketplace. In keeping with Steve Jobs’ distaste for Adobe’s Flash, that feature will be left out. Apple said most of the 150,000 applications available for its iPhone will also be available for the iPad.

The Wi-Fi models will carry suggested retail prices of $499 for 16GB, $599 for 32GB, and $699 for 64GB. The Wi-Fi + 3G models prices will run from $629 for 16GB to $829 for 64GB. All models of the iPad will be available in late April in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland, and the U.K.

InformationWeek's iPad Coverage:
TabletWars: Can Apple Three-peat With The iPad?

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