Apple Inc will kick off online sales of its new iPad in the early hours on Friday ahead of its evening store launch of the tablet computer.

Consumers can start buying the iPad 2 on Apple's website at 4 a.m. ET (0900 GMT) on Friday while customers who want to purchase it in a store will have to wait until 5 p.m. (2200 GMT) that day, Apple said.

Apple's retail partners for the first iPad - Best Buy, Target and Wal-Mart Stores - will also start selling the iPad 2 at the same time.

Carrier partners AT&T Inc and Verizon Wireless will also sell the device. Verizon Wireless, a venture of Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group Plc, just started selling Apple's iPhone last month.

(Reporting by Sinead Carew; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)