Shares of Apple rallied as it announced the release date of its anticipated iPad.

The company said on Friday that it will begin to ship the iPad tablet computer on April 3, with pre-orders beginning on its Web site March 12.

First batches will include Wi-Fi only models, with 3G models coming later in the month.

Shares of Apple jumped $7, or 3.30 percent to $217.77 by mid-day trading.

Investors cheered the announcement as it cleared early speculation by industry watchers that the company met manufacturing delays which could have impacted the roll-out.

Cupertino Calif.-based Apple  is aiming to fill a gap between smartphones and more powerful netbooks with a device aimed at consumption of content -- whether books or multi-media.

Since the original product announcement in January, some technology experts questioned Apple's decision to leave out vital technology, such as Adobe's Flash. But after two months to digest the plan, Wall Street is more cheeky about its prospects.

We believe the utility of the iPad will evolve materially just as the original 2G iPhone evolved to become more than just an iPod with phone capabilities, said UBS analyst Maynard Um.

Recall the original iPhone did not launch with an app store.