(Reuters) - Consumers planning to pre-order Apple Inc's (AAPL.O) new iPad to avoid the release-day crowds at the company's retail stores will have to wait a little longer to get their hands on one of the devices.
The latest version of the company's tablet, which was unveiled on Wednesday, is scheduled to hit shelves on March 16.
But tablets pre-ordered online won't ship to buyers until March 19, according to the company's website.
The Wall Street Journal reported in Saturday's edition that Apple's website had earlier promised the newest tablet would arrive at customers' homes on the launch date.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Apple's new product releases are some of the hottest events on the tech calendar, scrutinized by investors, the media and industry insiders alike.
To the company's hard-core fans, who vie to be the first to own the latest device, a three-day delay would be an eternity and could add to the crowds and chaos at the company's retail stores.
In January, enraged Chinese shoppers pelted Apple's flagship Beijing store with eggs and shoving matches broke out with police after customers were told the store would not begin sales of the iPhone 4S as scheduled.
The new iPad sports a crisper display and an array of technology advances and tweaks.
Apple said it will continue to sell the iPad 2 but dropped its price by $100. The older tablet now starts at $399 while the new third-generation wi-fi only iPad starts at $499.
The high-end model of Apple's latest iPad starts at $629 and will be capable of operating on a high-speed 4G "LTE," or Long-Term Evolution, network. At speeds roughly 10 times faster than current 3G technology, that may help banish the sometimes shaky video quality of older devices.
Reporting by James B. Kelleher; Editing by Philip Barbara