Walmart Has Limited Selection of iPads

Before getting in that long line at your local Walmart, be aware that the chain may not be stocking the exact model you’re looking for. AppleInsider is reporting that Apple is rationing its supply of the third-generation iPad to retailers, with the discount chain getting just three of the nine models. On launch day, Walmart has only the 16GB Wi-Fi, 32GB Wi-Fi and 64GB AT&T LTE 4G models of the popular tablet.

Walmart was the first U.S. retailer to begin selling the new iPad. Customers could pick one up there at one minute after midnight, while other chains were forced to wait until 8 a.m. this morning, the official launch time.

So if you want one of those six other models that Walmart doesn’t carry, where can you go? The Apple online store is the one place certain to stock all models in all colors, but wait times are currently at two-three weeks. The Apple retail stores are stocking all models, but it’s a good idea to phone ahead to see which ones are in stock and which are sold out.

If you want the Verizon or AT&T LTE models, the stores for both carriers have the new iPad on launch day. Other chains carrying the iPad this time around include Best Buy, Radio Shack, Sam’s Club and Target.

As I write this, the iPads have been on sale for several hours and so far there are no reports of shortages—yet. Last year, the existing supplies of the iPad 2 were exhausted on launch day, leading to frustratingly long waits for would-be buyers. There are reports that some Walmarts had as few as five units in stock and all went quickly.

Since some Apple stores, including two in New York City, had several hundred people waiting in line, some of those people are no doubt still waiting. The fact that this is the third incarnation of the iPad and people are still willing to stand in line for hours, overnight if need be, shows that the popularity of the Apple tablet is as high as ever.

Michael Gartenberg, research director at Gartner, pointed out that dozens of competing tablets have been introduced over the last year or so, but “none have prompted people to stand in line.”