Here's a healthy dose of reality for all of those iPad lusters out there who didn't pre-order the device weeks ago: Either prepare to wait,or prepare to pay up. As with any hot product that just hits store shelves, there will be lines and there will be people who are trying to make a buck.
The only place to pick up an iPad on its release weekend (the devices go on sale Saturday, April 3) is at an Apple (AAPL) store or one of the 673 Best Buy (BBY) stores that carry Apple products. Given that Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster expects Apple to sell 200,000 to 300,000 iPads over the weekend, it's a pretty fair assumption the stores are going to run out. According to our sister site, Engadget, if you pre-order an iPad now you won't get it until after April 12.
At Best Buy, purchases will be limited to one of each available model (it comes in 16-gigabyte, 32-GB and 64-GB versions), and employees who want to buy one will have to take their place in line with customers. Spokesman Justin Barber says plenty of demo models will be available for people whose iPad dreams have yet to be fulfilled. That could prove to be quite the tease.
You're Asking How Much?
Shoppers could try to bypass official channels, but it will end up costing them dearly. The day before the iPad even hit stores, hundreds of listings for the device were already posted on eBay (EBAY). One seller is offering a 64-GB iPad that will ship after April 10 at a "pre-order" price of $999.98, a $300 premium to that model's retail price. Craigslist, too, also featured iPad listings -- but again, they featured inflated price tags.
If iPad coveters rather pay with patience than cold-hard cash, they won't have to wait too long.
Rob Enderle, principal analyst with Enderle Group, says it should take about a week for Apple to restock the devices after the initial lot sells out. He also expects Apple to start selling the iPad through additional retail channels before the month is through, much like it did with the iPod. "By the end of the month, supplies should meet demand," says Enderle.
Best Buy declined to comment on its restocking plans, and an Apple spokesperson did not respond to an email seeking comment.
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