Apple's just revealed that its international launch of the iPad is going to be a full-steam affair, and that Apple stores around the world will be opening early--just like for the U.S. launch. The international iBooks store is already open, ready to pipe e-books to new owners.
This is true at least in the U.K., France, and Germany, from each country's respective Apple retail Web site, so we're presuming it's happening in each of the nine new nations that the iPad will be available from May 28th. Whether there'll be queues forming outside the stores before their 8 a.m. opening, we don't know--but given the huge global media storm that's been stirred up by the U.S. launch alone, we'd be prepared to bet on some lines of eager iPad wannabes forming outside the bigger Apple stores pretty soon.
There's another reason people will be clamoring to get their eager mitts on one ASAP--continuing reports of shortages of the iPad in stores across the U.S. While these shortages are probably being driven by both unexpectedly high demand and Apple making sure it has enough iPads stockpiled for the international launch ...with news like this on the Interwebs, it'll definitely be stirring up early purchaser enthusiasm.
Apple's also pushing this via an email promotion, inviting people to the store to "have one of our Specialists show you all the amazing things" an iPad can do, and even to have their iPads set up for them if they buy one. And there's also evidence that the iBookstores are going live around the world, ready to serve up e-books in time for Friday--so far there's only free Project Gutenberg content in them, but that will quickly change.
The ingredients for the recipe are all lined up then, but what's the dish going to be? Two million iPads sold in the next nine nations over the course of this weekend? Five million e-book downloads? We'll keep you posted, but however big those numbers turn out to be, you know they'll be minutely analyzed by business planning teams in companies like HP--who's already delayed their slate PC probably thanks to the early runaway success of the iPad in the U.S. Dell, with its news that it'll be launching its 5-inch Streak tablet PC in the U.K. first next month, will be paying extremely close attention.