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Apple iPad release date? Signs point to March 26

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(Read caption) Parisians await the launch of the Apple iPhone in 2007. New rumors put the Apple iPad release date at March 26.

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The iPad tablet has already been chewed over and spit out three hundred times by every blog in the land, but that hasn't lowered the pitch of the buzz surrounding Apple's forthcoming flat-screen device. The latest rumors center on the Apple iPad release date: Officially, Apple says the iPad will ship in late March and early April. Others have said the iPad will be delayed, possibly for weeks. Now comes tentative word that the iPad could hit shelves as soon as March 26.

The March 26 date has been floated by both the Examiner and MacRumors, a site with a good track record on the gossip front. If the news is correct, that would mean Apple is planning to launch the iPad on a Friday, the same day of the week that the Apple iPhone hit store shelves in June of 2007. The Examiner claims that Apple employees would have their hands on the iPad by March 10, the same time a major commercial campaign hits airwaves.

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Last week, Peter Misek, an analyst at Canaccord Adams, reported that there was an "unspecified production problem" at the headquarters of iPad manufacturer Hon Hai Precision. Misek predicated the number of iPads available at launch would be 300,000 or less; he also speculated that the iPad might not be available to US consumers until April.

Of course, the rumors are not mutually exclusive. It's possible that Apple has scheduled the launch of the iPad for March 26, despite a shortage in the number of iPads on hand. "Limited availability at launch... could drive up public demand and enthusiasm for the device," writes PC World's Ian Paul. He's right: nothing makes an Apple fan froth more than one long wait followed by another.

Check out our full iPad coverage, including price, specs, and the possibility of an iPad camera, here.

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