iPad finally hits the shelves – here’s how you can get one

The Apple iPad has finally launched in Australia, with hundreds of eager tech fans queuing outside official retail locations across the country in order to get their hands on the company’s latest gadget.

While would-be buyers have waited for hours to get their hands on a tablet, some may be out of luck. Demand is “off the charts”, according to Apple, and stock appears to be quite limited.

However, the iPad may not be as scarce as some would think. A number of resellers have begun offering the device today, with reports of some companies even luring customers queuing at Apple stores away with the promise of confirmed stock in store.

But the Apple website is an indicator of how little stock is available – the shipping date only gives June as a delivery date, not a specific day.

The company has suffered stock problems in the past. Last year, during the launch of the iPhone 3GS, some users went without a handset for months as the company attempted to keep up with orders.

Demand isn’t likely to dissipate, either. New figures from research firm Informa Telecoms & Media show sales of eReader devices are likely to fall in a few years as more powerful gadgets take over.

“This decline will be driven by a shift away from dedicated eReaders towards other multifunction device types, notably mobile phones and tablet-form-factor computing devices including the iPad,” the firm said in a statement.

Additionally, buyers who pre-ordered their iPads a month ago may not even receive their device on time. A user on the MacTalk site claiming to work as a courier has said there are 7,800 iPads awaiting delivery – but there is no chance they will be able to deliver them in one day.

“If you (or somebody) are not at your delivery address to sign for your iPad and have to arrange re-delivery it could take until mid-next week to clear the backlog,” the user warned.

The comments are yet to be confirmed by Apple, but the signs are clear: stock is limited, and if you want an iPad you’re going to have to be quick. So with that in mind, here are some of the best places to find one.

Apple stores

The most reliable place to purchase the iPad is through any of Apple’s seven retail locations, including the Bondi Junction store which opened just this morning.

The others are located in the Sydney CBD and Chatswood in NSW, Chermside and Robina in QLD and Chadstone and Doncaster in VIC.

Hundreds of users lined up this morning to get their hands on a gadget, with some even buying more than one device – so stock is sure to be running low. But some stores are more popular than others, with some queues only a few dozen people long before the stores opened.

While it is unknown how many iPads the stores have in stock, users are more likely to achieve success by checking official locations first.

Ordering online

Apple has every model of the iPad available for purchase online, along with a number of cases and accessories. If you order online, you’ll definitely receive your gadget – the only question is when.

The original pre-orders on the site gave a May 28 delivery date, with some after that pushed back to June 7. However, now the site simply gives a “June” delivery estimate, with no specific date provided. This has caused some bloggers to wonder whether new orders could even be pushed back to July.

If you order online you will definitely receive an iPad, but you may be in for a long wait.

Resellers

If you can’t find an iPad at any of the official Apple locations, you could check with some of the third-party resellers the company has allowed to offer the device. Apple has said users need to check on their website to determine the nearest authorised seller, but it seems a number of companies have stock available today.

Entertainment giant JB HI-Fi has already begun marketing the device on its official website. Additionally, Myer, David Jones, Domayne, Next Byte, Dick Smith, Computers Now and Mac1 are just some of the companies confirmed to be selling iPads. Prices are roughly the same for the major retailers, although some stores may be slightly more expensive.

Additionally, users on several tech forums and blogs have reported they were able to walk into smaller resellers with no queues at all, and walk away with whatever iPad version they wanted.

These stores will also be selling a number of accessories not available at the Apple stores, so if you’re keen to buy some peripherals these locations might be your best bet.

There are also reports some users are being “poached” from Apple store queues in order to buy iPads at rival retailers, sometimes for a slightly discounted rate or at the same price.

However, just because these stores are actually authorised to sell iPads doesn’t necessarily mean they will all have stock today. In the United States, electronics chain Best Buy was able to sell the iPad on launch day but locations were limited to under 20 units. The same rule could apply here.

Users should call ahead to determine whether these stores have the model they are looking for, and at the right price.

eBay

If Apple stores and resellers are out of stock, then eBay is probably the next best thing. There are already dozens of iPads available for sale in all of the different sizes, with both WiFi and 3G versions up for sale.

However, there are a few factors to consider. The prices being set for these models are tremendously high, and in some cases are hundreds of dollars above the prices set by Apple. Users are sure to find the model they’re looking for, but need to be prepared to pay a significant cost.

Users should also consider where they are buying from. Many eBay users are based overseas, and might be selling iPads from different countries where 3G iPads are based on different hardware. Using a SIM from one of the four telcos in an international model could result in some problems, so check where you’re buying from.

Forums

There are a number of tech forums based in Australia such as Overclockers where users regularly buy and sell goods. If you’re desperate for an iPad, you may want to check these forums out to see if anyone is selling the particular model you’re looking for.

This is definitely a last-minute attempt. The number of users selling iPads on these sites is sure to be relatively small, so buyers need to check with official stores and resellers before resorting to these markets.

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