Rumor: iPad 3 to become available March 16th

Now that we know when Apple will unveil its new iPad, folks are starting to speculate on what date the tablet will become available. And the most consistent guess to date seems to be Friday, March 16th.

MacRumors is the latest to add weight to the theory, pointing to a high profile Apple Store in Houston that was originally slated to debut on March 17th, but has recently been rescheduled to open a day earlier…

“The Houston Chronicle is reporting that Apple’s forthcoming Highland Village retail store will be opening Friday, March 16. According to the report’s source, the store was originally scheduled to open in January, but delays in the construction schedule pushed the opening back to Saturday, March 17. But just weeks ago, the opening was bumped up a day to March 16, sparking speculation that the company is seeking to have the store open for an iPad 3 launch on that day.”

Sure, this may seem like sheer coincidence. But we’ve heard other whispers of high-profile Apple Stores slated to open around that time. Last month, 9to5Mac reported that Apple was looking to open its highly anticipated retail store in London’s Harrods department store around March 16th.

Now consider this. The 16th is exactly 9 days after March 7th — the date of the iPad 3 event (we know, easy math). Last year, the iPad 2 came out exactly 9 days after Steve Jobs unveiled it at a keynote event on March 2nd.

Given all of the above evidence, we think it’s fairly likely that Apple will start selling its new iPad on March 16th. And you may not even have to wait in line to get one this time. Word on the street is, they’ll be taking pre-orders.