Over the past couple of days, rumors have been spreading that Best Buy has been ordered by Apple to halt sales of the iPad 2. The story is that Apple got wind of the fact that Best Buy had been stockpiling iPad 2 units, and didn't like that. However, we've got a very reliable source who just hit us up to give us the real scoop, and it turns out that it's a bit more sinister than a plan to stockpile iPad 2 units for a big weekend event.
According to a DigiTimes report, Japan has implemented a power brownout policy that is seriously hindering the production of upstream component makers in the country. However, Apple has agreed to absorb additional costs to ensure "smooth shipping" from the suppliers. In return, these Japanese companies are expected to see minimal negative affects on their profit margins.
AppleInsider pointed out an iSuppli report from earlier this month that said there are five key iPad components likely produced in Japan, including the device's battery, dynamic random access memory (DRAM), NAND flash, electronic compass, and the touch screen overlay glass.
We review the Smart Cover for the iPad 2 in this episode. Apple went back to the drawing board after their original iPad Case was found to not be the best design, and alongside the release of the iPad 2, they've got the Smart Cover. Using magnets to connect itself to the iPad, the Smart Cover is available in polyurethane or leather, and acts as a screen protector cleaner, and stand for the iPad 2. We give you a look at how it works.
Best Buy is now accepting pre-orders for the device in stores and online. It's available in 16GB for $499, 32GB for $599, and 64GB for $699.
Best Buy and Future Shops in Canada will also have the Playbook on April 19 and are accepting pre-orders.
In the U.S., the Playbook will also be available at AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon stores, as well as CBeyond, Cellular South, Cincinnati Bell, Office Depot, RadioShack, ShopBlackBerry.com, Staples, and BlackBerry from Wireless Giant.
Similar to the U.S. launch, the iPad 2 will go on sale abroad at 5pm local time, and will be available online at 1am.
"While competitors are still struggling to catch up with our first iPad, we've changed the game again with iPad 2," Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO, said in a statement. "We're experiencing amazing demand for iPad 2 in the U.S., and customers around the world have told us they can't wait to get their hands on it. We appreciate everyone's patience and we are working hard to build enough iPads for everyone."
In total, the iPad 2 will be available in 25 additional countries on Friday, including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.
It's the hardest decision an Apple fan can make: Pick up a discounted iPad or splurge for its slightly more expensive successor, the iPad 2. And it's not like Apple's made the dilemma any easier: The company discounted its original iPad models by a cool $100 upon the announcement of the iPad 2, adding an even greater incentive for those looking to score a tablet on the cheap.
And now, that decision just got a whole lot harder.
Not content to let Apple be the only tease on the block, AT&T has since followed up with a price discount of its very own. Customers looking to purchase a first-generation iPad can now do so via the mobile carrier, which will slap an extra $100 discount on top of Apple's.
The $200 reduction, in total, drops the final price of the original iPad (3G) to $429 and $529 for the 16GB and 32GB versions respectively. In addition, AT&T has slashed the price of the 64-gigabyte version of the iPad 3G to $529, a $300 savings beyond its original purchase price, which you can pick that up via AT&T's official website.
As usual, the Gear Live crew was near the front of the line as we waited for the iPad 2 to go on sale. Apple closed their doors about an hour before launch, and we started recording when the curtain came down. Get a look at the in-store festivities, which involves a lot of clapping and high-fives, followed by our in-store unboxing of a white iPad 2 with 3G, along with a Smart Cover demo.
The Wi-Fi version of the Motorola Xoom will be available at various retailers starting March 27, the company announced Wednesday.
The 10.1-inch tablet will be at Amazon.com, Best Buy, Costco, RadioShack, select Sam's Club locations, Staples, and Walmart - both in-store and on their Web sites.
The Motorola Xoom Wi-Fi with 32GB of memory will cost $599.
Motorola said the Xoom Wi-Fi will also be available to commercial IT channels and regional retailers through a distribution agreement with Synnex Corporation, and regional carriers through Brightpoint.
SXSW 2011 brings 20,000 early adopters to downtown Austin, Texas every year, but this year the Apple iPad 2 was going on sale at the exact same time. What is a gadget-loving, Web professional to do? Apple made things a little easy by opening a temporary "pop-up" store just a few blocks from the convention center. On Friday, the lines were around the block. Today, it is just another busy, Apple retail store.
Sales at the pop-up store were brisk despite the fact there are two other Apple stores in Austin, which do about $30 million in combined annual business. The demand for the iPad 2 is driven partly by the fact that Apple didn't accept pre-orders on the device, forcing would-be early adopters to brave the lines at retail stores.
At 5:10pm ET, an Apple employee suddenly shouted, "Everybody start cheering!"
And the crowd roared as Russian tourist Alex Shumilov, 29, bounced up the stairs of the New York City's flagship Apple store on Fifth Avenue, clasping two white iPad 2 boxes in each of his hand.
After camping outside the store for 28 hours, through more rain than shine, Shumilov became one of the first people in the world to own an iPad 2. It's quite a story to tell when he returns home to Moscow this Sunday.
"I'm a bit tired," he said, while grinning from ear to ear. "But I came all the way here for the iPad. I got two white ones. Everyone is waiting for white!"
By 4:30pm ET, the line for the iPad 2 outside the Apple Store was more than a mile long. It filled the public pavilion (we felt sorry for neighboring F.A.O. Schwartz), wrapped around the block, and continued along one side of the next block.
According to several Apple employees, the line began to pick up around 2pm. Bottles of water were distributed to the early goers, but what most really craved were stools.