Consumers rush to pre-order iPads as stocks run low

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The Independent Tech

As the technology blogs heat up with news about the impending release of Apple's new tablet device, analysts have predicted that the company will sell more than 6 million iPads this year, fuelling rumors that Apple is low on stock.

According to a March 29 report by Morgan Stanley's chief Apple watcher, Katy Huberty, iPad suppliers have upped initial shipment estimates to reflect stronger than expected consumer demand.

The report predicts that iPad shipments within the first three months will reach 2.5 million units. iPad shipments during 2010 are forecast to reach up to the 8 to ten million mark. Huberty says the actual sales figures will be in excess of 6 million units - much higher than prior reports suggesting first-year sales of between 3 and 4 million units.

Speculation is rife that Apple has already sold out of existing iPad stock, the rumor fuelled by updated shipping information on Apple's iPad pre-order page. Consumers who haven't already pre-ordered their device will have to wait until April 12.

Technology blog, MacRumors.com, is reporting that Apple has already started shipping iPads to customers in the US who placed orders for WiFi only versions during the first day it was available on the Apple site. Adding that it is unlikely the devices will be delivered to people's front doors before April 3.

On March 29 Apple confirmed that some devices would be available in select Best Buy stores, select Apple Authorized Resellers and campus bookstores within the US on April 3.

Apple also said they would be offering a free personal setup service to consumers who purchased an iPad in store. The service includes the setup of email accounts, instructions about how to load favorite apps onto the device and iPad customization. In-store iPad workshops have also been planned to help customers get the most out of their device.

The WiFi version of Apple's iPad will go on sale on April 3 in the US with 3G models expected to start shipping at the end of April. WiFi and 3G versions of the device are also expected to become available in Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain and Switzerland in late April. iPads will go on sale in additional countries later in the year.

Prices range from $499 for the 16GB WiFi model up to $829 for the WiFi & 3G 64GB model. International pricing will be announced in April.

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