Apple Will Launch iPad in U.K. on Multiple Carriers

Apple will launch the iPad in the United Kingdom market May 28, with some in that country reporting their preordered iPads arrived a day early. The U.K. edition of the iPad features 3G connectivity through multiple carriers, unlike in the United States, where that service is only available through AT&T. The iPad proved a massive success in the United States, selling more than 1 million units within a month of its April 3 general release, but that demand put pressure on Apple's production channel and apparently slowed the international rollout.

Apple will officially launch the iPad in the United Kingdom May 28, with some devices reportedly delivered early. Apple's U.K. Website suggests, however, that those now preordering an iPad will need to wait until June for their purchase to ship.

According to the, some British reported receiving their preordered iPads a day ahead of the general release. Those devices, presumably, were ordered soon after preorder availability was announced.

In addition to its 27 U.K. stores, Apple will apparently sell the iPad through two additional retailers, Currys and PC World. Purchasers in the U.K. will have the same options as those in the United States when it comes to choosing between WiFi-only or 3G-enabled iPads, and storage capacity of 16GB, 32GB and 64GB. However, at least one fundamental difference exists between the iPads offered on respective sides of the pond: in Britain, those purchasers will be able to choose from a variety of carriers with regard to a 3G plan.

"You can add a micro-SIM card when you order an iPad with WiFi + 3G from the Apple Online Store," reads a note on Apple's U.K. Website. "Just select your iPad WiFi + 3G model and choose a micro-SIM card. You do not need to start a data plan at this stage. Or you can get a micro-SIM card later from any carrier offering iPad data plans." Apple apparently limits customers to one micro-SIM card per iPad.

U.K. carriers offering iPad 3G plans include O2, Orange and Vodafone. The plans themselves vary widely with regard to cost: O2 offers three options, ranging from 500MB/day for 2 pounds to 1GB/month for 10 pounds and 3GB/month for 15 pounds; Orange offers four, from 200MB/day for 2 pounds to 10GB/month for 25 pounds; Vodaphone's three include 1GB/month for 10 pounds, 3GB/month for 15 pounds, and 5GB/month for 25 pounds.

By contrast, the U.S. version of the iPad 3G offers a plan from a single carrier, AT&T, with prices that range from $14.99 for 250MB/month to unlimited usage for $29.99.

In the month following its April 3 release in the United States, the iPad managed to sell more than 1 million units. That sales amount, apparently, put pressure on Apple's production channel and delayed the international release. Thanks to that success, analysts from research firm IDC predict that worldwide media tablet shipments will see a compound annual growth rate of 57.4 percent, for a total of 46 million units in 2014.

"These are early days for media tablets, an altogether new device category that takes its place between smartphones and portable PCs," IDC analyst Susan Kevorkian wrote in a May 20 statement. "IDC expects consumer demand for media tablets to be strongly driven by the number and variety of compatible third-party apps for content and devices."

Hewlett-Packard, Dell and other manufacturers are currently preparing their own competitors for the space. The success of the iPad is also seen as a potential market-share boost for those manufacturers responsible for various parts of the device, such as Samsung, according to a research note from analytics company iSuppli.