Best Buy Gears Up for April 3 iPad Launch; AT&T Still Ignored

Mega electronics retailer Best Buy is preparing its employees for the April 3 iPad launch, according to reports. Two MacBooks and an iMac will be removed from the 673 U.S. Best Buy stores that have Apple sections in order to make room for four iPad demo units. But what's most intriguing is that, according to leaked Best Buy planograms, the four units each have four separate SKUs, meaning the WiFi + 3G model could make an appearance.

For those early adopters itching to take home an iPad, there's no need to set your alarms early: Best Buy stores will not be opening early for the launch. MacRumors.com says, "... the company believes that [opening early] would offer little benefit due to a lack of sales competition while incurring additional operational expense."

Apple's COO Tim Cook revealed last month that at first -- aside from official Apple Stores -- Best Buy will be the only retailer carrying OMG-can-I-touch-it-please models of the hotly desired tablet computer, leaving AT&T, which will provide the iPad's 3G service, in the dust (for now). Bestbuy.com will not sell the iPad. Best Buy and Ap

ple have fostered a great partnership since the former began selling the iPhone, and with the company's profits soaring 37 percent over last year, it's no wonder they're holding hands. I'd expect AT&T to sell the iPad 3G models upon its release in late April.

AT&T's exclusion from the big reveal makes me suspect Apple may be slowly distancing itself from the wireless carrier that has angered so many. Plus, with AT&T's exclusive iPhone contract with Apple supposedly expiring in June 2010 -- perfectly timed with the fourth-generation iPhone's anticipated release -- and rumors circulating about the iPhone coming to Verizon, methinks Apple is pulling the old "let's just be friends" routine.

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At a Glance
  • Apple looks set to shake up casual computing with a tablet that offers clever design and ease of use. But that streamlined approach may also be the iPad's weakness.

    Pros

    • Best-in-class touch interface
    • Large display shows pics and videos beautifully
    • All-day battery life

    Cons

    • No way to manage files, no camera, no multitasking
    • Lack of Flash support cripples many Web sites
    • Poor scaling of iPhone apps
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