* Wi-Fi iPad to launch April 3, 3G iPad in late April
* Australia, Canada, Japan, UK & other mkts in late April
* Preorders start March 12 on Apple website
* IPad revenue mot likely booked in current quarter
* Apple shares jump 4.3 pct to all-time high
(Adds details on revenue booking, updates share price)
By Gabriel Madway and Sinead Carew
SAN FRANCISCO/NEW YORK, March 5 Apple Inc
(AAPL.O) said the first iPads will be in U.S. stores on April 3
and hit nine international markets later in the month, easing
concerns that manufacturing constraints could delay launch.
The news sent shares of Apple surging as much as 4.3
percent to an all-time high of $219.70 on the Nasdaq, as
analysts said the speedy international rollout could help
build sales momentum.
The 9.7-inch touchscreen iPad, which is 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
Chief Executive Steve Jobs unveiled the tablet in late
January, but the company did not announce any international
markets until Friday, when it said the tablet will 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 eventually. She estimates the company will sell 4 million
to 5 million units in the first year, which will add $1 to
earnings per share.
The April 3 launch date means Apple won't likely book any
iPad revenue in the current fiscal second quarter, which closes
at the end of March. Nonetheless, Barclay's analyst Ben Reitzes
said the launch plans added some "welcome clarity."
"Not only is the device available April 3 in the U.S., but
we believe availability in nine other countries by the end of
April is likely quicker than many thought, lending potential
upside to consensus estimates into mid year," he wrote in a
Analysts are currently forecasting Apple's fiscal 2010
earnings per share at $11.62, according to Thomson Reuters
I/B/E/S, up from $9.08 last year.
There has been some debate on how successful the much-hyped
iPad really will be. While most agree that the device is
well-designed and appealing to consumers, some analysts are not
convinced there is a big market for tablet computers.
The iPad will have to compete for consumer attention with a
myriad of established devices, including smartphones, netbooks
and dedicated e-readers like Amazon.com Inc's (AMZN.O) Kindle.
Apple said that an iBooks application for the iPad -- which
will compete with the Kindle -- would be available as a free
download on April 3.
A BIT LATER THAN EXPECTED
The U.S. launch date for the iPad model with short-range
Wi-Fi wireless links, starting at a price tag of $499, is
slightly later than the previously expected late March launch.
Oppenheimer & Co analyst Yair Reiner said there were some
supply constraints around the iPad, which was not unusual for a
major product launch. But he said that would not be an issue in
the long run.
"I think supply constraints can have some short-term impact
in the first quarter, obfuscating the true demand around launch
time, but the longer term is more important," he said.
Customers looking for versions of the iPad with
third-generation (3G) high-speed cellular data links will have
to wait until late April, said Apple.
AT&T Inc (T.N), the exclusive U.S. carrier for the iPhone,
will provide wireless connections for the iPad. But AT&T's top
executive said earlier this week that he expects consumers to
mostly use Wi-Fi to connect the iPad [ID:nN02183567].
Beginning March 12, U.S. consumers will be able to go to
Apple's website to preorder both the Wi-Fi-only model and the
version with 3G and Wi-Fi, or reserve a device to pick up at a
store on April 3.
Research firm iSuppli estimated the total materials costs
for each device is $219.35, with a $10 manufacturing cost
(Reporting by Gabriel Madway and Sinead Carew; Editing by
Gerald E. McCormick, Steve Orlofsky and Matthew Lewis)