Apple may be about to change their established method for selling the iPad. While the original launched at Best Buy and in Apple retail outlets, and was quickly followed by opening in Wal-Mart and Target, the iPad 2 may be exclusive...to Apple. At least for the first three months.
This info comes from MacRumors.de (via MacRumors) and gives the next iPad's launch date as one of the first two Saturdays in April. Either April 2nd, or April 9, for those of you who are calendar-disinclined.
Apple's exclusivity is only said to last three months or so, but that still seems extremely doubtful to me. The only sane reason for such a move would be to protect limited supply. Which makes sense if the rumors (also repeated here) that the iPad 2 will pack a retinal display prove true. Some calculations claim that a large retinal display is impossible right now, which is another reason to question these rumors.
Today's rumor does claim that the iPad 2 retinal display will have a lower pixel density than the iPhone 4. I suppose it could be possible that Apple has designed some sort of amazing new screen, and production is low enough that they are limiting the first run to Apple stores. Still- I doubt Jobs & Co. would make that big of a jump, and risk losing out on all of those sales.
One of the reasons an iterative improvement for the iPad 2 makes more sense is production capacity. Apple is about to go up against a slew of tablet competition. They have a vested interest in gobbling up as much market share as possible before a strong challenger picks up a user base. Now is not the time for wild leaps.