US iPads sold out as UK launch looms

Love it or hate it, there's no denying that Apple's iPad has invaded the tech consciousness to a huge degree.

With well over a million units already sold in the US market, the world-wide launch has repeatedly been put back to allow America to slake its thirst for the 'magical' device which has seen just about every company involved in computing jumping on the me-too tablet bandwagon.

Now it seems that Apple has turned its eye away from America as next Friday's launch comes into focus, which means that supplies of the oh-so-sexy [cough! Ed.] slab of glass and silicon are becoming incredibly sparse across the pond.

Piper Jaffray pad counter Gene Munster has had his minions on the phone calling over 50 Apple retail stores and it seems the shelves are as bare as a Brezhnev-era communist bakery. There are a few lonely Wi-fi units kicking around but the 3G models are as rare as rocking horse poop.

Apple has now implemented a new system in some of its US stores were punters will get 24 hours notice of when their order will be available for collection, which is currently running between four and seven days.

As far as the UK launch goes, if you don't have an iPad reserved, don't think you'll be able to stroll into your local Apple temple and pick one up. If the company's biggest market is running dry, there's little hope of UK stores being given enough stock to meet demand.

We'll be out and about with the THINQ video crew on launch day, bringing you tales of wonder and woe from the queues, which are bound to be mighty.