iPad 2 to hit Australian stores 5pm Friday

Apple has confirmed its much-anticipated iPad 2 will go on sale in Australian from 5pm this Friday, with local users to enjoy a modest discount from last year’s launch.


The top-of-the-line model – with 64GB of storage space and an onboard 3G mobile broadband connection – will go for $949, and prices will scale down to $839 and $729 for the 32GB and 16GB 3G models respectively.


The WiFi only version will sell for $799 for the 64GB model, $689 for the 32GB model and $579 for the 16GB model.


These prices are discounted up to $100 from last year’s prices, possibly due to the rise of the Australian dollar above parity in the last 12 months. SmartCovers will be available for $45 or $79 dollars, depending on the model.


The iPad 2 will be sold from the company’s own retail stores in addition to local third party sellers. Customers can also pre-order the iPad 2 online from 1am on Friday morning.


Despite the hype surrounding the gadget, retailers have received very few details about the launch, with resellers including Next Byte and Myer saying they don’t have any new information from Apple about how much stock they will receive.


According to a Next Byte assistant manager, the company is currently not taking any pre-orders because the stores’ systems don’t have a confirmed price.


“At the moment, we’re just taking emails from anyone who’s contacted us about the iPad [2], and we’ll provide them with greater detail about the launch when we have it,” he says.


Some resellers were not even aware Apple had confirmed both the prices for the Australian launch or that a launch time of 5pm had been set.


Myer was contacted about the launch, but a spokesperson said the company did not have any more information.


Availability of the iPad 2 this Friday is likely to be reduced given the huge demand in the United States, with Apple chief executive Steve Jobs stating: “We are working hard to build enough iPads for everyone”.


While the gadget will go on sale in more than 25 countries this Friday, including Canada, Germany, Italy, New Zealand and Britain, it has been announced Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore and “additional countries” will have to wait until April.


Apple has already announced the launch will be delayed for Japanese customers due to the earthquake devastation.


Meanwhile, Apple rival Research In Motion has announced it will start taking orders for its PlayBook tablet, priced at $US499, at Best Buy stores and other resellers. The actual gadget will launch on April 19.


A 16GB model will be available for $US499, a 32GB model for $US599 and a 64GB model for $US699.


RIM hopes to combat Apple’s dominance through its WebOS platform, along with a number of other hardware features including support for Flash. It can also be tied to a BlackBerry smart phone.


RIM is yet to announce an Australian launch date for the PlayBook tablet.


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