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New iPad Delays: Wait Time For Online Orders Hits 3 Weeks Due To 'Off The Charts' Demand

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Two to three weeks: If you buy an iPad online through Apple's website right now, that's how long you can expect to wait for your new tablet to arrive.

Apple has apparently sold out of new iPads, leaving customers who didn't immediately order theirs after Apple's media event last Wednesday seeing waiting times of up to three weeks, according to GigaOM. An Apple spokesperson confirmed the shortage to the USA Today over the weekend, boasting that demand for the new iPad was "off the charts." Eager shoppers can still order the new iPad online, though they won't get the tablet until long after the third-generation Apple tablet becomes available in stores on Friday, March 16 (though there's no guarantee of being able to buy one once it hits the selves).

Long wait times at the launch of a new product have become the norm for Apple in recent years: The iPad 2 saw delays of up to five weeks when it was released in 2011, while eager customers waited up to four weeks for their iPhone 4S back in October.

Meanwhile, you can probably expect shortages of the new iPad at your local Apple store, too: Fans have already begun lining up outside at least one Apple retailer, in London -- tech site Slashgear spotted a pair of line-waiters with folding chairs and warm clothes over the weekend.

The new iPad was unveiled at an Apple event last week in San Francisco to familiar hype. Apple's third-generation iPad packs a high-resolution Retina display screen, an improved processor and battery life, and the option for 4G LTE compatibility on AT&T and Verizon (See our infographic here on how the new iPad compares to the iPad 2).

Rumors leading up to the event anticipated this shortage of iPads, as reports from the supply chain claimed that suppliers were having difficulties producing mass quantities of the Retina display screens for the iPad. There hasn't been any further confirmation that this is the case: A conspiracy theorist or cynic might wonder if Apple is just claiming that demand is so high that waiting times are necessary in order to drum up good press, in which case -- mission accomplished, Apple.

Whatever is causing the delays -- overwhelming demand or marketing magic -- the fact remains that if you are hoping to be among the first to try out the new iPad and haven't yet ordered, you're going to have to brave an Apple store or electronics retailer in order to get one. In the meantime, if you're really desperate, there is no shortage of camping tents available for overnight delivery on Amazon, and you could be the first to claim a piece of pavement outside the Apple store in your hometown today.

Flip through the slideshow to view 11 things you need to know about the new iPad.

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