iPad Delayed: Apple Sets April 3 Launch Date

Apple's Web site calls the iPad "a magical and revolutionary product at an unbelievable price" that is "coming April 3." The iPad will be available for preorder starting next Friday, March 12. However, only the Wi-Fi iPad model, which starts at $499, will be available at launch; the more expensive 3G/Wi-Fi model, starting at $629, won't be released until late April.

It's unknown why the iPad has been delayed until early April. Analyst Peter Misek of Canaccord Adams issued a report earlier this month that cited "an unspecified production problem" and resulting "manufacturing bottleneck" that could potentially cause a delay. Another research firm, ThinkEquity, also reported "minor delays" for the iPad because of issues with component suppliers in Asia.

This week Digitimes attempted to rebut those reports with an article that quoted suppliers for Foxconn Electronics, which is manufacturing the iPad. The sources told Digitimes that their supply shipments were on schedule and that the iPad was on track to meet its intended late March launch date.

However, those estimates proved to be erroneous. Apple initially said the Wi-Fi model would begin shipping within 60 days of Apple's Jan. 27 iPad press event, which put the launch date sometime in late March, and the 3G/Wi-Fi would ship within 90 days. Apple can still meet its original shipping goal for the 3G/Wi-Fi model if the model launches by April 26.

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It's unlikely that the minor delay will dampen any enthusiasm for the iPad. Although the product has been criticized by some for a lack of features such as a built-in Webcam, Flash support, HDMI and GPS capabilities, the buzz around the forthcoming tablet has been high. Wall Street analysts predict Apple will sell anywhere between 4 million and 5 million units this year.

"iPad is something completely new," said Apple CEO Steve Jobs in a press statement. "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."