Apple's iPad, the subject of frenzied industry speculation since its unveiling in January, has so far not drawn the hordes that ushered in the iPhone three years ago. The afternoon before the much hyped tablet computer goes on sale, a smattering of customers lined up at stores in New York, Washington, Boston and San Francisco, in marked contrast to the thousands that accompanied the iPhone's debut in 2007. Analysts say early sales have been strong. But with many able to pre-order the gadget since mid-March, there was little reason to stand in line ahead of Saturday's 9 a.m. launch. Those who ordered early enough online get their iPads on Saturday, via pickup at a store or home delivery. Apple has staked much of its reputation on the iPad, pitched as a revolutionary new category of device: a lightweight mobile computer that strives to combine the best attributes of a smartphone and a laptop. It is Apple's most important launch since the iPhone. Wall Street is keen to gauge consumer response to the device, the firm's next growth driver, and the crowds at Apple stores this weekend may provide an early indication of its popular appeal. On Friday, tech blogs picked up on what appeared to be pictures of the iPad's innards posted by the Federal Communications Commission on its Web site, giving techno-fans their first glimpse of pre-production components. With the caveat that different parts may have been selected for the final iPad, Apple repair experts iFixit analyzed the photographs and concluded that the iPad uses Toshiba flash memory and a Broadcom communications chip alongside Apple's own A4 processor. It was unclear why the FCC posted the photos.

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