Early this morning, people who were among the first to pre-order the iPad began receiving notifications that their devices have shipped. In addition, Apple sent an email today that announces a number of details about the iPad's launch weekend, including its availability at Best Buy stores.The hysteria has officially begun. Whether or not you give a whit about the iPad, prepare to hear a lot about it this week. A lot of details became available over the weekend and this morning, and there's plenty to report.
First, Apple has apparently sold out its initial supply of iPads for April 3. Anyone placing a pre-order March 27 or later will not receive their iPad until April 12 the earliest. Those who pre-ordered prior to March 27 should still expect an April 3 delivery. Estimates about the number of iPads that will be available opening weekend are all over the map, with many believing 250,000 is the approximate figure.
Second, Apple has begun shipping the iPad to those who pre-ordered it on March 12. The emails starting flowing in from Apple in the middle of the night, with users receiving shipping notifications and UPS tracking numbers. The UPS delivery team looks to be pretty busy on Saturday, April 3. Keep in mind, just because the orders have already shipped doesn't necessarily mean that they'll arrive early. Certainly a few will sneak through and reach customers by Friday, but the vast bulk likely won't be delivered until Saturday.
Third, those looking to score an iPad even though they haven't pre-ordered one now have more information about how to do so. The iPad will be available at all 221 Apple Retail Store locations and most Best Buy stores starting at 9AM on April 3.
Reports currently suggest that Best Buy stores will have very limited stock of the iPad, so if you're going to avoid the madness at Apple Stores, be sure to get to Best Buy early. Reports also note that the initial batch of iPads that are going to be available at Apple Stores will be for those who pre-ordered them. Each Apple Store will hold onto its excess stock of iPads until all the pre-orders have been picked up. Only then will the excess inventory be released to non-pre-odering people.
Apple also said that it will offer a free Personal Setup service to every customer who buys an iPad at the store, helping them customize their new iPad by setting up their email, loading their favorite apps from the App Store, and more. All U.S. Apple retail stores will host special iPad workshops to help customers learn more about this magical new product.
There you have it.