Australian iPad launch delayed, pre-orders start May 10

The international launch of the Apple iPad has been delayed due to higher-than-expected demand in the US, with Australian would-be customers now set to receive their gadgets at the end of May.

The company confirmed pre-orders will begin on May 10. Meanwhile, Vodafone has announced it will act as a carrier for the 3G model – but it did not specify whether Australian customers would be offered plans for the device.

The iPad was released on Easter Saturday to extraordinary demand in the US, with customers lining up for hours at Apple stores across the country. But the company said in a statement it couldn’t keep up with demand.

“Although we have delivered more than 500,000 iPads during its first week, demand is far higher than we predicted and will likely continue to exceed our supply over the next several weeks as more people see and touch an iPad. We have also taken a large number of pre-orders for iPad 3G models for delivery by the end of April.”

“Faced with this surprisingly strong US demand, we have made the difficult decision to postpone the international launch of iPad by one month, until the end of May. We will announce international pricing and begin taking online pre-orders on Monday, May 10.”

The company also said that while international customers will be “disappointed… we hope they will be pleased to learn the reason – the iPad is a runaway success in the US thus far”.

The move isn’t unprecedented. Apple usually tests the waters of a new product by providing an initial launch with limited supply, then ramping up shipments if retailers sell out too quickly. The situation occurred last year in Australia during the iPhone 3GS launch, with some customers waiting weeks, or even months, to get their hands on the device.

The announcement comes nearly a week after the company said at its OS 4.0 preview event that it had sold 450,000 iPads and recorded x iPad app downloads.

Taking the updated figures into account, and considering the minimum price of $US499, Apple has now received a boost of at least $US249 million to its bottom line excluding sales of apps, ebooks and accessories.

Meanwhile, telecommunications giant Vodafone has announced it will offer 3G plans for the iPad in Germany, Italy, Spain and Britain. However, no details have been given for Australia and the company did not respond to requests for comment before publication.

Additionally, tech blog Gizmodo has reported that a new iPhone announcement could come on June 22, with that date booked for the Yerbe Buena Centre for Arts in San Francisco. The location is where the company has chosen to unveil its previous three iPhones during the World Wide Developer’s Conference.

However, the announcement would be later than usual. Last year, the company announced the iPhone 3GS on June 8, with the iPhone 3G announced the year before that on the June 9.

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