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iPad preorders sell out; Apple says demand ‘off the charts’

Updated: March 12, 2012 5:44PM

If you are hoping to score a new iPad from Apple, you can expect a wait that just keeps getting longer. Over the weekend, Apple’s website showed March 19 as the earliest ship date for online orders of its popular tablet computer. On Monday, the site simply said to expect delivery in two to three weeks.

The shipping delays affect all models and price levels on preorders, according to the website. And there is a limit of two per customer on the number of tablets that can preordered.

“Customer response to the new iPad has been off the charts and the quantity available for pre-order has been purchased,” Apple said in a statement. “Customers can continue to order online and receive an estimated delivery date.”

Consumers hoping to snag an iPad on its March 16 launch will have to visit one of Apple’s retail stores or select Apple resellers.

While the Apple site still says models will be available in stores come Friday, there are unconfirmed reports that shipments worldwide could be delayed from three days to three weeks. And if past is precedent, there could be long waits in line at some Apple Stores when sales begin at brick-and-mortar locations.

The new iPad, the successor to the iPad 2, was unveiled with much fanfare on Wednesday at an Apple event in San Francisco. The device comes with a crisper Retina display, faster processor, voice dictation and the ability to run on the speediest 4G wireless data networks. Prices start at $499 for a Wi-Fi only model with 16 gigabytes of storage; models that can run on 4G data networks start at $629.

Apple is no stranger to sellouts of its devices within hours of their unveiling. Preorders for the iPhone 4S, for example, sold out in less than a day after the 4S debut last fall. Carrier AT&T Wireless said it sold more than 200,000 of the smartphones within the first 12 hours.

The monthly data plans for the new iPad will start at $14.99 at AT&T for 250MB and $20 at Verizon Wireless for a 1 GB plan.

Gannett News Service

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