When Apple unveiled the iPad earlier this year, we were told it would be available around the end of March. Rumors began to swirl recently suggesting shipments had been delayed. However, today the company has put an end to all speculation and finally announced a firm date for the official debut of its anticipated tablet device: the iPad will go on sale starting April 3 with pre-ordering opening on March 12.

Only the Wi-Fi models will be available initially with a suggested retail price of $499 for 16GB, $599 for 32GB, and $699 for 64GB. Customers who want to the more expensive 3G-equipped version will have to wait until "late April" to pick up their iPad. That same timeframe was given for the device's release in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the UK – in both its Wi-Fi and 3G versions.

As part of the launch, Apple says it will also officially pull the curtain off its online bookstore and 12 new apps that have been designed specifically for the device to take advantage of its larger real estate. The new iBookstore will feature books from both major and independent publishers, including Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, Macmillan Publishers, Penguin Group, and Simon & Schuster.