Apple's touch-screen iPad tablet has received an official U.S. launch date of April 3, with launches in international markets to follow later that month.
The 3G version of the iPad launches later in April as well. On Friday, Apple confirmed the markets outside the U.S. in which the iPad will launch: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the UK.
Equipped with a multi-touch screen and accelerometers like sister tech iPhone and iPod Touch, the iPad has drawn some interest from game developers, particularly those who have already found success on the iPhone. Existing iPhone games can be run on the iPad with no modification, either centered in the screen at original resolution, or pixel-doubled to cover about two-thirds of the screen.
Neil Young, head of iPhone developer Ngmoco, recently told Gamasutra
his company has been readying "a lot of support" for the device, and PopCap's Andrew Stein has suggested the larger screen can enable new kinds of touch-and-tilt gaming experiences for which the iPhone is too small.
Even companies outside of the mobile gaming field are paying attention: Epic Games, which has recently begun developing a version of its Unreal Engine 3 development platform for the iPhone, says it will likely explore opportunities
on the iPad, too.
Only Nintendo, which enjoys a major share of the portable gaming market, was unimpressed by the iPad reveal; president Satoru Iwata dismissed it as a "bigger iPod touch
." Nintendo itself, however, is sizing up its portable with the U.S. launch of the larger-screened DSI XL at the end of March, just days before the iPad hits stores.
Cross Research analyst Shannon Cross told Reuters
that the iPad could sell 4 to 5 million units in its first year.
The screen is a 9.7-inch IPS display, and the device is half an inch thick and weighs 1.5 pounds. The device is available in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB versions. Pricing for the iPad lands in between iPods and Macbooks. Wi-fi-only iPads cost $499, $599, and $699 for 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB variants, respectively. Models with wi-fi and 3G go for $629, $729, and $829.