All the latest on the iPad

The rush for the iPad appears to have slowed down slightly after some fairly insane first day orders. It comes as Apple reveals more details including how it will treat battery failures, an audio option for iBooks, and a “breakthrough” mobile contract.

In our link roundup this morning, we linked to an article reporting that Apple presold 51,000 iPads in the first two hours after it was made available online last week. This post has now been updated to 120,000 units. Over the weekend, the rate slowed to about 1,000 an hour.

The estimates come from a variety of sources, though the most popular is from blogger “Deagol” who has been collating and analyzing order numbers from buyers. That’s slightly prone to inaccuracy as the sequential order numbers also cover sales of other Apple products from the company’s site. However, the iPad is boosting overall Apple site sales so much that the blogger has made what appears a credible estimate of what proportion of the sales are indeed iPads. The only other caveat is that this wouldn’t account for people ordering multiple iPads, but that’s unlikely to make a significant difference.

Meanwhile, there will be a solution for if and when the battery dies, though it might not be to every user’s liking. Instead of replacing the battery, Apple will simply exchange the iPad for a replacement machine. It’ll cost $99 and users will be responsible for backing up their own data to resync to the new iPad. It’s not clear if the replacement will be a new machine or a refurbished model.

The iBooks application will have a feature which may attract the wrong kind of interest: it will include a text-to-speech tool named Voiceover. That caused problems for Amazon which faced a legal challenge over a similar feature after the Author’s Guild claimed that said feature breached a separate copyright restriction designed to protect audio editions of books. That case was settled by Amazon agreeing to allow publishers and authors to request the functionality be turned off for specific books.

Finally, the 3G edition of the iPad will not require a service contract. Instead users can choose between paying $14.99 a month for 250MB of data or $29.99 a month for an unlimited deal; they can switch between the plans or cancel the service completely at the end of each month. Surprisingly Apple’s description doesn’t have any pesky asterisk’s beside the word “unlimited”, which suggests some users may be able to test AT&T’s network coverage to the limit.