iPad sales pass one million as 3G version hits shelves

Tech giant Apple has sold one million iPad devices in the four weeks since its launch, receiving a boost over the weekend as the 3G version of the gadget was released with thousands sent out to eager customers.

But Australian would-be users are still waiting for their devices, with pre-orders set to begin on May 10 after the company announced a delay in manufacturing due to higher-than-expected demand.

The company announced the sales figure overnight, with chief executive Steve Jobs saying iPad customers have also downloaded 12 million apps and over 1.5 million eBooks from the iBooks Store.

Additionally, he also said the one million sales figure has come in less than half the time it took to sell the same amount of iPhones in 2007. Jobs once again touched on the demand issue, saying it “continues to exceed supply and we’re working hard to get this magical product into the hands of even more customers.”

This could indicate that international customers may have to wait even longer to get their hands on the iPad itself, with no actual launch date set for the gadget.

Apple has only said the iPad will be released in Australia in “late May”, with the release of the 3G model to come soon afterwards.

But with both versions of the gadget now available to customers, a fierce debate has emerged on tech sites and blogs – should users fork out an extra few hundred dollars for the convenience of 3G connectivity, or settle for the vanilla Wi-Fi version?

Social media-centric Mashable says the device itself works similarly to the Wi-Fi version, with the 3G connectivity only required if users intend to be moving around.

“For users who travel a lot on business — especially if you are in a car or on a train a lot — I think the 3G feature is definitely worth the money, if only to have as a “just-in-case” backup.”

Additionally, Apple-centric review site iLounge concludes the 3G device is more of a convenience offering. However, limits on data consumption may impact on how users view videos streamed over 3G.

“Because the addition of cellular service doesn’t fundamentally change the way most of Apple’s applications work, differences in these applications are negligible to non-existent, depending on the application.”

“The only exceptions are iTunes Store and App Store downloads, which are still subject to the maximum 20MB file size cap of the iPhone 3G and 3GS, and YouTube, which strips even HD videos down to an extremely low, basically unwatchable resolution over a cellular connection.”

Additionally, CNET has noted that while the iPad is a great internet browser and offers thousands of applications, it “won’t (yet) replace your laptop”.

The reviews also note the impact of the 3G performance relies on the strength of your network connection. While all the major Australian telcos have said they will offer iPad plans, local users won’t be able to judge how the device works until is released here – a date likely to be several weeks away.

US users are able to choose between an “unlimited” connectivity plan and a limited usage model, but it is unclear whether these types of products will be available to Australian users.

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