updated 10:30 am EDT, Tue March 13, 2012
iPad still due at 8AM across the board
A quick confirmation has supported beliefs the new iPad is getting an 8AM launch on Friday. Following a Houston store opening's similar schedule, 9to5 was sent artwork for a storefront poster showing availability the same hour. If in line with its past habits, Apple is likely to make 8AM a common opening hour worldwide when malls and local laws allow.
Third-party stores won't necessarily follow suit and could open at a more common 10AM.
The early openings are both meant to drum up interest as well as to minimize conflicts. At 8AM, eager buyers near the front of the line still have an opportunity to get to work that morning. It helps Apple take care of more sales during the day at the same time, which has the side benefit of pumping Apple's first-day sales figures.