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Apple confirms 8:00am opening for iPad 3 release

The new iPad, or iPad 3, officially releases on Friday, but today Apple announced that retail stores worldwide will open at 8:00 a.m. local time to make way for the third generation iPad.

On March 16th at 8 a.m. local time Apple stores in the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland and the UK; along with Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, will open early for the iPad 3's grand debut, confirming yesterday's rumors.

The 8 a.m. launch was made public via a leaked photo showing Apple's marketing materials, particularly the stores' front signage.  The image showed the iPad with the release date and time.

Apple also confirmed the new iPad will be available at other U.S. retailers: Best Buy, Radio Shack, Sam's Club, Target, and Walmart.  Although if you purchase the iPad 3 at an Apple retail store you will be offered free Personal Setup service, helping you customize your iPad by setting up email, loading new apps from the App Store, and more.

The new iPad was announced last week at a conference in San Francisco where Apple confirmed new features like a stunning new Regina display, A5X chip with quad-core graphics, and a 5 megapixel iSight camera, as well as 1080p HD video recording and a estimated 10 hour battery life.  Certain models will also support 4G LTE networks.

As for the international launch, Apple confirmed a March 23 release for an additional 23 countries including: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macau, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

"Customer response to the new iPad has been off the charts and the quantity available for pre-order has been purchased," Apple said in a statement.

Since the official unveiling of the iPad 3 last Wednesday, pre-orders have boomed leading to shipping delays on all models and price levels.

"Customers can continue to order online and receive an estimated delivery date," Apple said.

As of right now, new customers who pre-order the new iPad will have to wait at least two to three weeks regardless of size, model, or price level.  Either way, if you plan on getting the new iPad tomorrow, expect long lines and extremely long waits at Apple stores nationwide.

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Matt Liebl You can follow Senior News Editor Matt Liebl on Twitter @Matt_GZ. He likes games, sports, musicals, and his adorable dog, Wrigley. And his wife.
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