The long-awaited iPad will make its way to Apple Store and Best Buy shelves on Saturday. And Apple primed the buzz pump with a sneak peak on Good Morning America.
"And now to the device that promises to change our lives and how we interact with the written word. Apple's new iPad goes on sale this Saturday. ... it's already sold out," said Good Morning America host Robin Roberts. She then handed it over to a GMA reporter who chronicled the rising buzz for the gadget. Finally, GMA's audience got a hands-on demonstration from the set of the morning television show.
The iPad was also featured in the television show Modern Family on Wednesday night, and Apple CEO Steve Jobs is on the cover of Time magazine's April 12 issue, which features an interview. Apple also has reportedly approved a Netflix application for the iPad on its App Store.
What can we expect this weekend? "I think if the weather is good, we can expect to see people standing in line for the iPad. It certainly looks like Apple has another hit on its hands," said Michael Gartenberg, a partner at Altimeter Group. "Some people may wait for the 3G model, but many consumers will want to get their hands on the device right away."
Analysts Predict iHit
Reviews from consumer technology magazines are also starting to pour in. The general consensus: It's just as cool as Jobs promised.
So cool, in fact, that Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster has admitted his initial prediction of 2.7 million iPad sales in 2010 may be too conservative. And Broadpoint Amtech predicts content purchases for the iPad could cause content revenue to equal about 30 percent of the revenue Apple earns from hardware by the end of 2011.
"We believe these signs indicate that initial demand for iPads was stronger than the company expected, and/or minor supply issues have slightly constrained availability for the launch," Munster said. "We believe the supply constraints are minor because the new ship date is not a significant delay. Ultimately, both strong demand and somewhat constrained supply appear to be resulting in the fact that Apple is selling every iPad it can build."
It's unclear if there will be shortages. Initial reports suggested that Apple may only have 300,000 iPads available at launch. But others estimate Apple could ship as many as 700,000 iPads for its market debut and have another one million of the touchscreen tablet devices ready by the end of the month.
What is the iPad?
Starting at $499, the iPad lets users browse the web, read and send e-mail, view and share photos, watch videos, listen to music, play games, read e-books, and complete other tasks on a half-inch-thick touchscreen device that looks like an oversized iPhone.
The App Store will let iPad consumers wirelessly browse, buy and download new apps. Apple has said the device will come preloaded with 12 new innovative apps designed especially for the iPad. There is no official word on what those apps are, other than the iBooks app for Apple's new iBookstore.
The iBookstore will feature books from The New York Times best-seller list from both major and independent publishers, including Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, Macmillan Publishers, Penguin Group, and Simon & Schuster.
Mike Kent also contributed to this story.