Apple's Next Big Thing in Hands Today

By R. Stickney
|  Saturday, Apr 3, 2010  |  Updated 8:42 AM PDT
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SAN FRANCISCO - JANUARY 27: An event guest plays with the new Apple iPad during an Apple Special Event at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts January 27, 2010 in San Francisco, California. CEO Steve Jobs and Apple Inc. introduced its latest creation, the iPad, a mobile tablet browsing device that is a cross between the iPhone and a MacBook laptop. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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Apple's highly anticipated iPad release is this Saturday at 9 a.m.

Depending on who you ask, there are plenty or "only a handful" in stock.   When it comes products and release information, Apple is known for keeping secrets.  It is hard to know whether to expect a sellout or shelves and shelves of them still sitting there on Monday.

The Apple store at the Metreon in San Francisco says it has plenty in stock and invites any and all to come on over this weekend to pick one up.  Of course, bring at least $499 with you.   That is the base price.  If you want bells and whistles bring $829.

We are getting the opposite story from Best Buy in southern California.  According to a Southern California blogger and NBCSanDiego contributor Jenn Van Grove, they only have 15 iPads each.

Van Grove is debating whether she will be among those who will wait in line for the latest Apple release. 

“This is a milestone event that we’re living through,” she said. “There have been tablet computers before but all the attention that this is getting, all the pre-orders, the expected shortage in terms of stock comes Saturday, leads me to believe that we’re going to look back on Saturday as an important moment in the history of technology and Apple.”

Apple won't say how many of the iPads it has sold in advance of their  Saturday debut, but there are estimates that the company has
sold close to 500,000. Close to 90,000 were pre-ordered the first day it was available, according to some reports.

The iPad snagged a starring role in an episode of "Modern Family" on the brink the debut.  The iPad is part of the story line in  Wednesday's episode of the ABC series.

Walt Disney Co., ABC's parent company, announced Thursday that it would offer applications for all its businesses on the iPad. About 20 ABC series will be available to iPad users through a Wi-Fi connection, the company said.

Will Zich, an 11-year-old, started saving money last year for a new iPod Touch, but changed his mind when the iPad was unveiled in January. He can rattle off all his reasons for wanting one, such as the e-book store, plus a bigger screen and faster processor than his iPod Touch. He says the iPad will be useful on road trips, and for playing games and surfing the Web early in the morning when the rest of the family is still sleeping.

To be practical, Zich says he might also bring it to school and use it to record homework assignments.

Others don't expect the iPad to ever leave their home.

Brian Herlihy, a 31-year-old financial analyst in New York, expects the iPad will offer him a way to read magazines, newspapers and maybe books without the clutter of paper, and as a Web surfing device that's faster to start up than his laptop. On the street or when riding the subway, though, the iPhone is a more appropriate size.

Not everyone is planning to make that kind of room in their lives for an iPad, of course.

Matt Jones, a 50-year-old video producer in Columbus, Ga., has a Windows Mobile smart phone. He doesn't pay for home broadband Internet access or cable TV, and he certainly isn't going to find a spot in his budget for an iPad. Plus, he already has plenty of gear to carry when he's working.

And when he's not, he says, "I wouldn't want to have to have a purse just to have the iPad."
 

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