Apple's iPad: Will there be shortages, and other questions

Apple's iPad goes on sale April 3, but that doesn't mean you'll be able to get one then. If the past is any guide, Apple stores could sell out early on. Will they? That's one of several intriguing questions still remaining about the iPad.

Will there be shortages?

Maybe, says my colleague Gregg Keizer: "Apple's iPad: Will It Sell?" Prior to Apple announcing an April 3 availability date for the iPad on Friday, Peter Misek, an analyst with Canaccord Adams said production problems would limit the number of units available at launch to 300,000.

Wall Street analyst Brian Marshall of BroadPoint AmTech said the iPad will "definitely" sell out in hours.

The company had trouble keeping up with demand for both the iPhone 3G in 2008, and the 3GS last year. It took Apple about six weeks to fully stock its stores with the iPhone 3G.

I'm ordering mine online when it becomes available for pre-order on Friday.

When will online orders ship?

PCWorld has a nice roundup of 10 questions about the iPad, including one that's topmost on my mind: "When does the iPad ship for online orders?" If I order the iPad Friday, which I plan to do, will it arrive April 3? PCWorld doesn't have an answer. I sent in a query about this to Apple's PR department, they have not yet replied. I'll let you know if and when they do.

Will it sell?

Like crazy, says Gregg, quoting analyst Ezra Gottheil of Technology Business Research.

Why did Apple miss its deadline?

When Steve Jobs announced the iPad in January, he said it would ship in 60 days, which would have been March 28. Instead, it'll be available six days later. Why?

John Paczkowski, writing at All Things Digital, quotes Misek and theorizes that it might have been a problem with the hardware supply chain.

But John Gruber, writing at Daring Fireball, disagrees. He says the problem was software, not hardware. "Why the iPad Won’t Quite Ship Within ‘60 Days’ of the Announcement Event:"

My sources suggest that Misek is wrong. It was the software, not the hardware, that took a week or two longer to finish than they’d hoped. Nothing extraordinary or unusual, just the usual hard-to-predict timing of turning software that’s almost ready to ship into software that’s ready to ship. In the grand history of major OS release date slips, one week is pretty tame.

Will the iPhone tether to the iPad?

They both run the same operating system, and come from the same vendor. The iPhone has 3G support. So it should be simple to tether the iPad to use the iPhone's 3G data connection. iPhone users would get 3G access without having to pay for an additional data plan.

But it's not going to happen, according to 9to5Mac ("Steve Jobs tells Swedish DJ that the iPad won't tether to the iPhone"). Swedish DJ Jezper Söderlund reportedly e-mailed Steve Jobs himself a query about whether the iPhone and iPad would tether. Jobs replied with one word: "no."

I don't know if the exchange with Jobs actually happened, but the response makes sense. Apple has said nothing about tethering, and it would hurt revenue for Apple partner AT&T, so I don't think we can expect to see it officially supported on the iPad, although we might see it for jailbroken iPads.

I'll have some more iPad questions, along with the best answers I can find, later this week.

What are your top iPad questions?

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