iPad 3 Release Date: March 16th?

Earlier in the day, we had reported that iPad 3 could be available as early as this week. It was based on the news that Apple had already started shipping iPad 3 units to the U.S.

But 9 to 5 Mac reports that according to their source Apple is gearing up for the iPad 3 launch on March 16th.

We’ve been told by a Apple Store source who has been reliable in the past that preparations are being made for a big Apple Store event which will culminate on Friday, March 16th.  Naturally, this points to an iPad 3 launch on the Friday just nine days after tomorrow’s announcement.  We’ve previously noted that an Apple Store in London at the world famous Harrod’s will open on that date as well as a new Store in Houston, Texas.

Last year, Apple unveiled iPad 2 on March 2nd, followed by the launch in the U.S. the following week on March 11th and the international launch in UK, Germany and 23 more countries on March 25th.

March 16th does seem like a more realistic release date for iPad 3 based on iPad 2’s launch schedule, with pre-orders starting on March 9th. But it doesn’t explain why Apple has been shipping iPad 3 units to the U.S. by snapping up available capacity at premium rates.

Thankfully these iPad 3 rumors and speculations will stop in less than 24 hours.

In case you missed it, here’s what you can expect from Apple’s iPad 3 and Apple’s media event tomorrow.

[via 9 to 5 Mac]