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iPad shortage forces Apple to delay international launch until May

Apple on Wednesday revealed that demand for the iPad is far higher than the company predicted, with more than a half-million U.S.-only sales in the first week. As a result, it has delayed the international launch of the iPad until the end of May.

"Although we have delivered more than 500,000 iPads during its first week, demand is far higher than we predicted and will likely continue to exceed our supply over the next several weeks as more people see and touch an iPad," Apple said in a statement. "We have also taken a large number of pre-orders for iPad 3G models for delivery by the end of April."

The press release continued: "Faced with this surprisingly strong U.S. demand, we have made the difficult decision to postpone the international launch of iPad by one month, until the end of May. We will announce international pricing and begin taking online pre-orders on Monday, May 10. We know that many international customers waiting to buy an iPad will be disappointed by this news, but we hope they will be pleased to learn the reason — the iPad is a runaway success in the U.S. thus far."

Last week, when Apple unveiled iPhone OS 4, the company announced it had sold 450,000 iPads in the product's first five days of availability. Wednesday's announcement revealed that the product sold another 50,000 in the next two days, topping 500,000 in its first week. More than 300,000 of those sales came on the product's first day of availability.

In March, Apple first announced that the iPad would be available in international markets by the end of April. Both the Wi-Fi and 3G versions of the hardware were scheduled to launch in the U.K., Canada, France, Germany, Australia, Italy, Japan, Span and Switzerland. Wednesday's statement also kills rumors of an April 24 overseas debut.

The announcement from Apple on Wednesday also suggests that U.S. preorders for the 3G iPad are still on track for their late-April arrival. Those devices will be compatible with AT&T's 3G network and carry a $130 premium over their Wi-Fi-only counterparts.