Today Apple announced that the iPad will ship in April, writing that the device will "be available in the US on Saturday, April 3, for Wi-Fi models and in late April for Wi-Fi + 3G models. In addition, all models of iPad will be available in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the UK in late April." Consumers will be able to pre-order their units starting March 12th, with pick-up at Apple retail stores.
With Apple's reportedly limited stock, will pre-orders work the way they did with the iPhone 3GS? Namely, will your reservation get you first shot at an iPad pick-up until stocks run out? Or have analysts "misunderestimated" (in the words of a certain American Idol judge) supplies, and there will be iPads available for everyone who wants to lay down the cash, starting at $499 plus local tax? There are no firm answers at this time.
Apple has clarified that iBooks will be available as a free download at the first date of shipping from App Store. iBooks represents the first time that Apple has shipped its own major product (iWork titles will follow shortly thereafter) from App Store. If it proves successful on the iPad, keep your eyes open for a potentially similar distribution move via iTunes for Macintosh software.
TUAW has been guessing April 2nd for the launch since early January. Nice to know we weren't too far off.
Hat tip, Twitterific