Apple Store Offline Ahead of iPad Pre-orders

Apple’s online store was replaced with the familiar “We’ll be back soon” message Friday morning ahead 5:30AM EST pre-order launch. The company is scheduled to start pre-orders and reservations for its multimedia tablet device today, and will release it in the U.S. on April 3.

The iPad is a tablet computer that runs a version of the iPhone operating system and includes a 9.7-inch multitouch display. It supports movie and music playback, ebooks, and most iPhone-compatible applications, and will be available with Wi-Fi, or Wi-Fi and 3G wireless data support.

The Wi-Fi version of the iPad will be available on Saturday, April 3, in the United States, and the Wi-Fi plus 3G version will be available near the end of April. Customers in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the U.K. will be able to get their hands on both models in late April, and in other countries later in the year.

Customers that pre-order an iPad can choose to have their tablet delivered, or reserved for pickup at their local Apple Retail Store.

Pricing for the iPad starts at US$499 for the Wi-Fi only version with 16GB of storage, $599 for 32GB and $699 for 64GB. The Wi-Fi plus 3G model costs $629 for the 16GB model, $729 for the 32GB model, and $829 for the 64GB model.