updated 04:10 pm EDT, Tue March 30, 2010
May serve PR, anti-scamming purposes
Apple may be exploiting a loophole in US Customs to prevent online iPad orders from arriving ahead of the official schedule, information suggests. The company has so far maintained that the product will only launch on April 3rd, even though shipments having been going out since Monday. Most iPads would arrive early under normal circumstances, deflating some of Apple's PR campaign, while also giving some people an opportunity to resell the device at a high markup.
It is instead claimed that Apple is deliberately withholding documents from US Customs, preventing the shipments from being cleared for entry. Until the documents are delivered iPads will allegedly be unable to pass through UPS' hub facility in Louisville, Kentucky, and from there to individual delivery points. The strategy may be meant to prevent individual UPS branches from intentionally or accidentally breaking street date.
The idea of a block on iPad shipments may be backed by a claim received by MacNN, saying that UPS is calling its customers to check if they will be available for Saturday iPad delivery. The courier service does not normally deliver on Saturdays, and so may be making special arrangements to ensure a smooth rollout. Apple's reliance on UPS is unusual in this regard.