Australia to get tablet in April but there is no word on when it will reach Kiwi shores

Apple has announced an April 3 release date for the iPad in the United States but there is no indication of when the tablet computer will be available in New Zealand.

Richard Webb, chief executive of Renaissance Corporation, a local distributor of Apple products, said Apple had set a late April release date for Australia, and was working towards a date for the New Zealand release.

"We are just waiting to hear on New Zealand ... I thought we would have known by now ... so we're hoping that within the next week we'll get a bit of a clearer picture," he said.

Webb said Apple prioritised release dates based on the size of countries.

"[Apple] are trying to marry their start-up capacity to what they believe is fairly large local market demand."

He said the 3G version of the iPad would arrive in New Zealand around three weeks after the Wi-Fi-only version - Apple's standard practice around the world.

Paul Brislen, spokesperson for Vodafone which sells the iPhone, had no idea when the iPad would arrive on New Zealand shores.

"As soon as I find out what's what I'll be making some loud noises about it," he said. Apple said the iPad would be released in nine international markets from Japan to the United Kingdom in April.

The 22.9cm touchscreen iPad, designed to surf the web, play video and games and read digital books, is the most anticipated product launch from Apple since the iPhone in 2007.

Chief executive Steve Jobs unveiled the tablet in late January, but the company did not announce any international markets until Saturday, when it said the tablet would go on sale in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the UK in late April.

"I think it eases concerns that were circulating about supply. There's always so much speculation around a launch, and this alleviates those fears," said Cross Research analyst Shannon Cross, adding that the breadth of the international launch should reassure investors.

Cross expects the iPad to be a major growth driver for Apple, and estimates the company will sell 4 million to 5 million units in the first year, which will add $1 to earnings per share.

TOUCH DOWN
* Wi-Fi iPad to launch April 3 in the US, 3G iPad in late April.
* Wi-Fi iPad coming to Australia, Canada, Japan, UK and other markets in late April.
* No release date yet for NZ.

- ADDITIONAL REPORTING: AGENCIES