Apple Scrambling to Produce iPads, Secure Deals

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It is one thing merely to design a new consumer electronic device that will revolutionize the way people interact with content, but it’s an entirely different thing altogether actually producing the thing. Since the iPad went up for preorder on March 12, Apple has amassed hundreds of thousands of preorders. Rather predictably, there are already talks of a serious shortage of the devices in anticipation of its April 3 release date. Just taking a look at Apple’s preorder page shows that all three versions of the device with wireless 3G capability have been delayed until late April.

According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, citing an internal source, the iPad could actually outpace the iPhone in terms of meteoric three month sales, with “hundreds of thousands” already preordered. This would seem to be backed up by another report that claims as many as 200,000 preorders by last Friday, and that’s just on the website! That same report suggests there could be as many as 140,000 preorders made at Apple Stores nationwide.

Meanwhile, Apple is rushing to secure content deals that would actually make Steve Jobs’ promise of a “magical and revolutionary” device something close to reality. While the content providers in the eBook market have been quick to embrace Apple as their savior from Amazon’s monolithic pricing structure, other media companies haven’t been quite as enthusiastic. Networks have not jumped at the opportunity to set up TV subscription deals that would put their popular shows on the iPad, as Apple anticipated. They’re instead trying to push down the prices of TV shows in the iTunes Store, but that is being met with stiff resistance as well.

I haven’t really seen much enthusiasm for the “interactive” content that they were pushing either. One almost hopelessly out of touch demonstration we saw last week was VIVmag’s preview of the “interactive magazine” they plan to publish on the iPad. While flashy and sexy in its presentation, does anybody really think people are going to be eager to have those annoying ads in magazines come to life and actually monopolize their viewing experience? I do have to concede though, that I was excited by what Wired Magazine appears to be doing with the platform, focusing more on the presentation of their content than the visibility of their advertisers.

As for apps, the iPad should be able to use most of the offerings currently available on the iPhone. Beyond that, they’ve set a March 27 deadline for developers to submit new iPad-specific apps. I’ve actually seen a lot of speculation on various message boards that developers represent a significant chunk of Apple’s preorder sales at this point, since apps for the iPhone turned out to be an extraordinary financial boon for opportunistic code monkeys with good ideas. Who knows what they’re going to come up with on the bigger screen?

Those who have already dropped $500+ on a first-generation device that they’ve never held in their hands and with an uncertain amount of content are far braver folks than me. I think it’s clear based on the enthusiasm for their product alone that Apple is going to be successful at pushing through a paradigm shift in digital content, but whether it will happen right away is much more suspect. Either way, we’ll be keeping our eyes peeled!

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