March 11th is a special day for every Apple fan out there, but if you have hoped that you can get the iPad 2 earlier than Friday evening (5pm local time at Apple Stores nationwide), you'll be disappointed to find out that Best Buy - quite expectedly - will also start selling the next-gen tablet after 5pm on Friday. The reason behind this is reportedly a contractual agreement with Apple. Other retail chains like Wal-Mart, Sam's Club and most recently Target are expected to also have the iPad 2 and judging from the Best Buy agreement, they will start selling the tablet after 5pm on Friday.
Has Apple ever done this before? Our memory reminds us of the late launch of the first generation of the iPhone, which went on sale at 6pm with Apple Stores closing for 2 hours to prepare for the launch. The same goes for the 3G version of the original iPad which was also launched at 5pm on a Friday. If Apple repeats the same scenario, that would mean that Apple Stores will close for a couple of hours prior to the big launch.
Unlike the original iPad, the second generation of the slate wasn't made available for pre-order. That all points to an even bigger crowd gathering in front of locations selling the iPad 2 and more hype generated. The reason behind the late hour launch? Speculations range from an overwhelming demand that Apple expects to result in shortages all the way to a specific hour picked so that employees don't miss work. What do you think about the 5pm launch? Let us know in the comments below.