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Best Buy to carry iPad on April 3 at ASC-stores only


Update: A little birdie flew into TUAW headquarters with the following tidbit. Best Buy stores are receiving 3 sellable SKUs (16, 32, and 64). The fourth SKU is a demo unit. The SKUs are still "invisible" in the system, but can be found if you look hard enough. Deliveries appear to scheduled for Friday, with an overnight to display them before the Saturday release.

MacRumors is reporting that Best Buy will be carrying the WiFi iPad at launch on April 3rd. The iPad won't be available at all Best Buy's, however. Only Best Buys with badged Apple Solutions Consultants (ASC) and "Apple Shops" will be carrying the iPads -- that's about 675 stores total. MacRumors reports that Best Buy is listing four SKUs for the iPad and notes that the fourth one may be for one of the 3G models due to launch later in the month. Best Buy stores will not be opening early on launch day and will not be carrying the iPad.

The ASC program was launched in 2001. It placed Apple employees in a handful of CompUSA stores in Texas and Southern California. In the years following, the ASC program grew to over 200 CompUSA stores. During that time, there was an ASC beta program in a limited number of Best Buys, but the Best Buy beta program was deemed unworkable shortly thereafter. However, after the bankruptcy of CompUSA in early 2007, the ASC program did expand into Best Buy again, this time bringing the familiar Apple Retail Store look and feel through "store-within-a-store" Apple Shop sections.

[Speaking of iPad orders, we've been hearing for the last 24 hours that pre-order customers are seeing credit card charges for their iPads -- not just the WiFi models, but the 3G+ models as well, which is a little bit early if the 3Gs aren't shipping until late April. –Ed.]

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