Walmart to Start Selling iPads at Midnight—Even Before Apple

Walmart announced that some stores will start selling the new iPad at 12:01 a.m. Friday, beating even Apple stores, which don't open their doors until 8 a.m.

Apple iPad
Getty Images
Apple iPad

"Starting at 12:01 a.m. local time on March 16, a limited supply of the new iPadswill be available at local 24-hour Walmart stores," Walmart said in an email.

Of course, Walmart suggests customers call ahead to make sure their stores have the iPads in stock.

This is Apple's third version of the iPad but instead of being called the iPad 3 or iPad HD, it will simply be called "iPad."

The new model comes with a faster processor and a much sharper screen. It also boasts an improved camera, similar to that of the latest iPhone.

In the U.S., the new iPad starts at $499, the same as the previous model, the iPad 2, when it debuted a year ago. The iPad 2 remains in stock, for $100 less.

Despite competition from cheaper tablet computers such as Amazon's Kindle Fire, the iPad remains the most popular tablet computer. Apple has sold more than 55 million iPads since its debut in 2010, including some 40 million last year. Researchers estimate that the iPad has more than 60 percent of the market for tablets.

Apart from the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the new iPad goes on sale the same day in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

A week later, another 25 countries will get the device, altogether making for an unusually fast product roll-out for Apple.

— Ryan Ruggiero contributed to this report.