Apple Stores Closing from 4-5PM for iPad 3G Launch

Apple will be closing its retail stores in the U.S. Friday afternoon from 4PM to 5PM local time to set up for the iPad 3G launch. The Wi-Fi plus 3G version of the iPad is scheduled to go on sale at 5PM today, although the first wave of customers that pre-ordered the multimedia tablet should see theirs arrive via FedEx earlier in the day.

The iPad is Apple’s multimedia tablet device that includes a 9.7-inch multi-touch display, built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support, support for most iPhone apps, and as of today includes 3G wireless data support in some models, too.

The Wi-Fi version of the iPad rolled out on April 3, and Apple promised the Wi-Fi plus 3G version would be available before the end of the month. Both models will be available internationally in about a month.

Lines for the iPad 3G will likely form ahead of today’s 5PM launch, and Apple hasn’t said how many units each store will have on hand. Considering that Apple has had a hard time keeping the Wi-Fi iPad in stock, there’s a chance that inventory may be limited.