A leaked image of some Apple Store frontage artwork confirms Apple will open their stores early for the arrival of the new iPad, or iPad 3.
The signage shows an image of the new iPad and text that reads: "Available Friday, March 16, at 8:00 a.m."
Reported by 9to5mac, it's not yet known if this will apply to all Apple stores countrywide, or if this is just a local thing. It is said that Apple retail employees who are working outside of the normal store hours are getting an additional 10% wage increase for their time.
Yesterday, tech blog Chron.com reported that the new Highland Village Apple store will open early, at 8 a.m., on its grand debut, which also happens to be the day the iPad 3 becomes available for pickup. An Apple spokeswoman could not comment as to whether the early opening will apply to all stores, but an early opening is typical when the company starts selling a new iPad or iPhone model.
Yesterday, Apple stated, "Customer response to the new iPad has been off the charts and the quantity available for pre-order has been purchased."
"Customers can continue to order online and receive an estimated delivery date," Apple said.
As of yesterday, customers who pre-order are given an estimated two to three weeks shipping delay for the third generation iPad. Given the popularity of the iPad 3, I'd expect those delays to only increase.
Apple did say that various iPad 3 models will be available in stores for the grand release on Friday, but there are some unconfirmed reports that shipments worldwide could be delayed from three days to three weeks. However, some reports indicate that there is a "big overnight" for retail on Thursday.
Either way, I would expect extremely long waits in line at Apple stores regardless of location or time. If you want to avoid long lines, and don't mind the two or three week delay then I recommend just ordering your new iPad on the Apple Store. Pre-orders begin at $499 and increase from there depending on size and model.
The new iPad was officially unveiled last week at a San Francisco event where the company announced the new iPad. The iPad 3 will have a Retina display, 1080p video recording, 5-megapixel camera, voice dictation, and much more!