US iPad pre-ordering kicks off today

Today will see an army of bleary-eyed American Apple fans getting up at the crack of dawn hovering over the online Apple Store to be first in the virtual queue to pre-order the company's much anticipated iPad.

But it won't be just the Macolytes closely watching the initial rush for this year's must have gadget from the Cupertino company.

Just about every two-bit box builder in the world has announced that it already had a tablet PC waiting in the wings just days after Steve Jobs stepped onto the the stage at the iPad launch a month or so ago. Which was quite a coincidence.

At 5.30am, the first real world indicator of public demand for Apple's undoubtedly desirable device will be in place, and all those 'me too' OEMs will be watching carefully to see whether they should turn all of those non-existent prototypes and flashy 3D renders into real hardware, dragging along on the coat-tails of Apple's innovation.

Apple will, of course, closely guard the facts and figures behind the launch in an attempt to keep the tablet gold rush all to itself, and it could be many months before anyone has believable numbers.

One thing is for sure, however. Initial demand will be through the roof as early adopters clamour to be one of the first to be seen with what Apple hopes will become a gadget with the same kind of iconic ubiquity as the annoyingly omnipresent iPhone and the iPod before it.

The jury is still out as far as we are concerned on the iPad. There's no doubt that Apple's latest baby will be huge. Whether it's a huge success or a huge failure, only time will tell.