Say goodbye to long lines for the newest iPads.
There's no official retail launch date for Apple's newest tablets, theand which means people won't be lining up for days. Instead, the devices will be available in stores as soon as their shipments arrive from Apple, some as early as Wednesday.
People who ordered the tablets online starting last Friday should receive their new iPads as fast as their packages ship. Most models of the iPad Air 2 are available to ship in two to four business days from the Apple Store online.
This will mark the first iPad launch that Apple hasn't specified a specific date -- and attracted long lines. When asked about the rollout, an Apple spokeswoman reiterated that the iPads are available this week.
Already, New Yorkers can nab the Wi-Fi versions of the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 at all stores in Manhattan, including the flagship Fifth Avenue store. The cellular model is not yet available at those locations. A sales representative at the downtown San Francisco store said the iPad Air 2 should be available in the next day or two, and other Bay Area locations -- including San Francisco's other stores, Palo Alto and Menlo Park -- also should have the tablets in the coming days.
Other cities that already have the Wi-Fi version of the iPad Air 2 include Austin, Boston, Chicago, Miami, Philadelphia and Washington, DC. West Coast cities -- including San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle -- typically appeared to be later on the list of tablet supply.
Apple product launchesConsumers line up for days -- or even weeks, in the case of the and -- to get their hands on the newest gadgets. Making the devices available on a sort of rolling basis is a different move for Apple. The company has tended to release its major new iPhones and iPads on Fridays, about a week after they're announced, and most people assumed that's when the new iPads also would hit stores. Apple executives, when unveiling the tablets last week, simply said they'd be available "later next week."
Apple has done the same type of rollout on occasion in the past. Last year's iPad Mini went on sale as soon as stores received their supply, and Macs typically launch in the same manner.
The rollout likely indicates how much (or more precisely, how little) demand Apple expects for its newest iPads. The updates to this year's products are much more minor than previous releases. The iPad Air 2 is thinner, lighter and has better specs, but the biggest changes come from the addition of the TouchID fingerprint reader and a gold model. The iPad Mini 3 is identical to its predecessor aside from TouchID and an optional gold casing.
Apple generates about two-thirds of its sales from the iPhone and iPad, but the markets for those gadgets are becoming saturated, with rivals including Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Samsung battling for customers and the billions they spend on mobile devices. Apple's newest iPhones, however, have attracted a record number of buyers since their launch last month. The iPhone 6 has the potential to be the biggest product launch in Apple's 38-year history.
Apple CEO Tim Cook on Monday said iPhone 6 and 6 Plusand it could stay that way through the end of the calendar year.
But demand is unlikely to be as high for the new iPads. Analysts say theThe iPad may be a significant revenue driver, but the device hasn't been selling as well as it used to. Large-screen smartphones are eating away at the need for a tablet, and consumers hold on to their iPads longer than their smartphones. Apple now faces questions over whether the iPad's declining shipments are a temporary hiccup or a troubling trend.
Cook, for one,and said what while some customers likely are opting for Macs or iPhones over the tablet, iPad has a "great future." He also said it's too early to tell how long consumers will hold onto their tablets before upgrading, though they aren't buying new models as quickly as they upgrade their iPhones.
CNET's Ben Fox Rubin contributed to this report.
Updated at 2:50 p.m. PT with more cities.