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Third-gen iPads sell out in pre-order, European orders now show 2-3 week delivery

To the surprise of absolutely nobody who follows the fortunes of Apple closely, the third-generation iPad is already a huge success. CNET reported on Friday that the initial batch of pre-order iPads has sold out. We had previously reported that the ship-by date for the U.S. had slipped to March 19, but the situation is much more dire for those outside of America.

Does that mean you won't get your hands on a new iPad if you were planning on waiting in line on Friday? No -- an Apple spokesperson told CNET that "Beginning Friday, March 16, the new iPad will be available for purchase at Apple's retail stores and select Apple Authorized Resellers on a first come, first-served basis." That translates to "Get in line early if you want an iPad."

While that doesn't really give an indication of exactly how many iPads will be available at Apple Stores and other retailers on Friday, potential line-sitters can take solace in those persistent rumors that Apple's been shipping planeloads of new iPads around the world for several weeks.

In the U.S., doing a pre-order today will pretty much guarantee that your new device will ship by March 19. As you can see from the screenshots below (taken Sunday afternoon, 3/11/2012), things aren't as rosy for some of the other countries that will also get the new iPad starting next week. I feel sorry for the folks in Hong Kong; the online store is showing the next-generation iPad as "unavailable." Better start standing in line now, people.

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