Supplies of Apple's new iPad have already begun to shrink, with strong pre-order demand for the third-generation tablet already leaving some AT&T 4G models out of stock for March 16 delivery. Only put up for pre-order less than 24 hours ago, the white 16GB and 64GB AT&T versions of Apple's new tablet are now showing March 19 delivery, the Monday after the Friday on which first units are expected to begin reaching buyers.
All other color versions, whether WiFi-only or with AT&T or Verizon LTE support, are still listed as shipping for March 16. International sales - in the UK at least - are still showing March 16 for all versions too, though those in the UK have had less time to stretch Apple's launch-day stock: the UK Apple Store only came back online at roughly midnight local time, several hours after pre-sales began in other countries.
Apple hasn't announced any early sales figures, though it looks likely that previous strong demand for the first-gen iPad and iPad 2 will be repeated for this new model. In-store demand, when the tablet goes on sale in Apple Stores on Friday, March 16, is also expected to be heavy, with the typical block-stretching lines of eager shoppers.
The third-gen iPad launch is to be Apple's largest simultaneous one to-date. Still, the message seems clear: if you don't want to be waiting in the cold at the tail end of next week, or hanging about for a week or more for online orders, it might be worth buying sooner rather than later.
More to convince or dissuade you in our full new iPad hands-on.