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iPad UK launch: How much? Where? Who?

Update: Apple has announced UK iPad pricing and availability. The iPad will be available to buy on 28 May. The 16GB Wi-Fi version will cost £429, £499 for 32GB and £599 for 64GB – all prices include VAT.

If you want the iPad with Wi-Fi and 3G then you’ll have to pay £529 for the 16GB model, £599 for 32GB and £699 for the 64GB.

Compared to the US (pre-tax vs pre-tax) it’s slightly more expensive to buy an iPad here – the UK 16GB Wi-Fi version, for example, works out at around £25 more than its US counterpart.

You’ll be able to pre-order the iPad from May 10th from the Apple UK site. For more info about tariffs read our story on iPad 3G data plans on O2, Orange and Vodafone.

iPad went on sale in the US on Saturday, and according to Apple more than 300,000 were sold. So what about us Brits? We had to follow the iPad launch-day jamboree from afar, going green with envy as we read the status updates and tweets from friends on the other side of the Atlantic.

So what’s the story with iPad and the UK? When will we be able to buy it here, how much will it cost, and will we get the full range of apps? A warning: most of this is speculation for the moment, but it’s informed speculation at least.

When will iPad go on sale here?

If you visit Apple’s UK website, iPad dominates the homepage, with a slogan promising ‘a magical and revolutionary product at an unbelievable price’. However, it also says ‘Coming late April’, indicating no specific release date as yet.

There have been rumours that iPad’s international debut will be on 24th April, albeit based on gossip that Apple Store employees in Canada have been told they can’t take holiday that weekend.

Apple could announce the iPad’s international release date this Thursday, when it holds its ‘sneak peek’ event to show off the iPhone 4.0 software.

How much will it cost?

What will iPad’s ‘unbelievable price’ be here in the UK? Again, Apple has given no official confirmation, leaving us to speculate on how its $499 entry price will translate to the Queen’s sterling. It almost certainly won’t be a straight currency conversion, which would mean a 16GB Wi-Fi iPad would cost around £330.

However, we can do some sums using the relative US and UK prices of other Apple products. An 8GB iPod touch costs $199 in the US and £152 in the UK – a ratio of £0.76 per $1. Meanwhile, a 1.86 GHz MacBook Air costs $1,499 in the US and £1,174 in the UK – a ratio of £0.78 per $1.

With that in mind, our bet’s on the entry-level 16GB Wi-Fi only iPad costing around £385, rising to around £640 for a 64GB Wi-Fi + 3G model.

Who will sell the iPad here in the UK?

Well, Apple will, obviously. Expect a similar ability to order an iPad from Apple’s website for delivery on launch-day, or reserve one to pick up from your nearest Apple Store.

However, in the US you can also buy an iPad from retail chain Best Buy, which invested in Carphone Warehouse two years ago, and is planning to launch its first Best Buy branded stores here in the UK in May. So the iPad may also be available in Carphone Warehouse at launch.

And operators? Apple hasn’t announced which operators it’s working with in the UK for the 3G-enabled version of the iPad, and whether that means the device will be available to buy through their stores too.

What apps will we get?

According to mobile advertising firm Mobclix, more than 3,000 iPad apps were available by Sunday morning, as developers scrambled to get their apps onto the App Store for the device’s launch. Many more will follow in the coming weeks, so there are guaranteed to be thousands available when us Brits get our hands on the iPad.

Some apps won’t cross the Atlantic. For example, we don’t expect to see the free ABC Player app, which lets people watch popular TV shows, due to licensing issues. Netflix’s streaming movies service may be another casualty of geo-licensing restrictions, while Pandora’s streaming music app certainly won’t make the leap.

Sports apps like those from Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association could also be stymied – insert your own ‘well, it’s not football’ British comment here…

However, expect to see some new apps launching in time for the UK debut of iPad. We might miss out on Pandora, but we fully expect Spotify to have an iPad app ready for launch, or at least soon after. Meanwhile, we’re hoping the Guardian releases a native iPad version of its excellent iPhone app – and don’t be surprised if other UK newspapers and magazines also have apps ready for launch later this month.

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