Apple Australia today notified by email its customers who ordered iPads early that their tablet devices had left distribution points and were on trucks wending their way to them.
The consumer electronics maker that overnight eclipsed rival Microsoft in market value prioritised deliveries of the devices over accessories, shipping these separately as they came to hand, Apple told customers in its advisories.
Apple provided free delivery from its online shop so the decision not to bundle ordered items could greatly increase the cost of fulfillment but should be appreciated by its customers who won't have to wait to get their hands on the device that Apple chief executive officer Steve Jobs called "magical" at its January announcement.
Apple Store Sydney staff yesterday said they were expecting a dawn delivery tomorrow of the devices, although they could arrive earlier but wouldn't be put on sale. Even accessories were locked up until tomorrow, they said.
CRN believed there were severe penalties for resellers and retailers that sold the devices "out the back door" before tomorrow's official 8am launch.
The shop's staff were assigned early and late shifts to 9pm tomorrow in expectation of a huge turnout of customers who missed out on ordering early.
Apple sold out of the first batch of iPads in two days at the beginning of the month and is fulfilling later orders in stages. Its ecommerce site showed a June shipping date for devices ordered today.
A staff member said yesterday that althought he was rostered from 11am to 9pm he volunteered to work both shifts because he didn't want to miss out on the "excitement" of the iPad launch day.
Apple sold more than a million iPads in the first month it was on sale in the US, a third of which were sold on its April 3 launch. Analysts iSuppli estimated that more than seven million iPads will be sold this year, rising to 14.4 million next year and trebling to 20.1 million the year after.
But analysts point to tight supply of key components such as the multi-touch surface as a constraining factor on device sales for the foreseeable future.