Apple iPad 3G Hits Store Shelves on April 30

Apple plans on releasing the 3G-enabled version of its iPad to retail stores on April 30, giving a firm date after weeks of saying "late April." Those who preordered their iPad 3G well in advance could see their devices delivered on that date. Those who preorder an iPad 3G now, though, will have to wait until May 7 for the device to arrive, possibly due to a squeeze on Apple's production channel due to high demand. Apple announced that international iPad pricing and preorder availability will arrive on May 10.

Apple will release the 3G-enabled version of its iPad to its retail channel on April 30, the same day it anticipates delivering the device to those customers who preordered the tablet PC early. The company will also offer "a free Personal Setup service" to customers who purchase the iPad in-store, including e-mail and mobile-app setup.

Additionally, Apple suggested in an April 20 statement that the iPad would be available in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom by the end of May. The iPad's international pricing and preorder availability is scheduled for rollout on May 10.

Those who purchase a 3G-enabled iPad over the already-released WiFi-only version will be paying a premium; the 16GB iPad with 3G sells for $629, the 32GB for $729, and the 64GB for $829-a premium of roughly $130 over the WiFi-only iPad.

Customers who preorder a 3G-enabled iPad now, however, will have to wait until May 7 for their device to ship. That may be due to what Apple has termed "far higher" demand for the iPad than internally predicted. Apple also claims that it sold 500,000 iPads during the week following the device's April 3 general release. During an April 8 news conference at Apple's Cupertino, Calif., headquarters, CEO Steve Jobs said that 600,000 iBooks and 3.5 million applications had been downloaded to the WiFi-only versions of the iPad.

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Apple could ship as many as 10 million iPads in 2010, according to a March 29 research note from Morgan Stanley, and sell around 2 million of those. Other projections are more optimistic, with analysis firm iSuppli predicting sales of 7.1 million iPads in 2010.

The international version of the iPad could undergo hardware alterations from the U.S. version in order to meet certain areas' wireless regulations. Israel's Communications Ministry has been confiscating iPads at its customs points, saying that the device does not comply with the European wireless standards that Israel follows. Signals generated from wireless devices in the EU must be weaker than those allowed under Federal Communications Commission guidelines in the United States.

"If you operate equipment in a frequency band which is different from the others that operate on that frequency band, then there will be interference," Nati Schubert, senior deputy director for the Israeli Communications Ministry, told the Associated Press on April 15. "Without regulation, you would have chaos."

Analysts are predicting that Apple will report quarterly revenues of $12 billion during an April 20 earnings call. A.M. (Toni) Sacconaghi Jr., an analyst with Bernstein Research, predicted in an April 14 research note that Apple would ship 7.3 million iPhones for the quarter, along with selling 3.1 million Macs; on the other hand, iPod unit sales were predicted to decline 10 percent year-over-year. The full impact of iPad sales, however, will not be felt on Apple's bottom line until the device has its full U.S. and international rollout.