How to get an iPad before they go on sale

If you can't wait for an Apple iPad, there are a couple of ways you can get your hands on one: You can become an employee of an Apple Store, or stage a Mission: Impossible-style break-in of the Wall Street Journal headquarters.

PCWorld reports that Apple Store employees will get access to iPads March 10, with commercials starting to air March 15.

And the Wall Street Journal reported that it has an iPad right now, which Apple checks up on nightly. The Journal quoted Rupert Murdoch, CEO and chairman of News Corp. which owns the newspaper:

Mr. Murdoch said the Journal planned to be on Apple Inc.'s iPad tablet computer. "In fact, we've been allowed to work on one, and it's under padlock and key. The key is turned by Apple every night," he said in response to a question. "But we will be on that with The Wall Street Journal." Mr. Murdoch said he believed in a year or so there will be a half dozen or more devices on which consumers will be able to receive newspapers and other media.

So let's say you don't work at the Apple Store. And you don't have mad ninja-burglary skillz. When will you be able to get an iPad?

When the iPad was launched in January, Jobs said it would be available in 60 days. That would be March 28 (23 days from now! ohboyohboyohboyohboy!). But that's a Sunday, and it seems unlikely Apple would make a major product available on a Sunday.

Both and the Examiner are reporting rumors that the iPad will be available Friday, March 26, at 6 pm. That's the same day of the week and time the iPhone went on sale in 2007. It's only 21 days away -- three weeks! (ohboyohboyohboyohboy!).

The Examiner says people who camp out to get the device on opening day will get a "special gift." I've camped out for Apple products twice. The "special gift" I'd be most interested is a personal foot massage from Steve Jobs.

Earlier this week, analyst Peter Misek, of Canaccord Adams, said production problems could limit initial availability of the iPad. But Misek has been wrong before, he predicted a 4G iPhone for Verizon Wireless in January. And Apple contract manufacturer Foxconn component suppliers say their supplies are on schedule, and "Foxconn should be able to ship 600,000-700,000 iPads in March and one million units in April."

Update: 10:45 am: Apple announced this morning that the iPad will be available April 3.

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