iPad-mania as thousands queue for global roll-out

Thousands of fired up and sleep-deprived gadget fans mobbed shops in Australia and Japan Friday as Apple's iPad, touted as a revolution in computer use and publishing, began its international launch.

A queue some 200 metres (yards) long stretched round the block at Apple's flagship central Sydney store, flummoxing commuters bemused by the hype, while similar scenes played out in downtown Tokyo.

The iPad - a flat, 10-inch (25-centimetre) black tablet targeted at the leisure market - was also going on sale in Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland on Friday as part of a staggered global roll-out.

In central London about 40 enthusiasts clad in sleeping bags and blankets were queuing in the middle of the night outside the city's cavernous Apple store.

In Sydney, security guards had to quell pushing and shoving amongst the media as Rahul Koduri, who queued for some 30 hours from 2:00 am Thursday, became the first to buy the touch-screen computer.

"It's fantastic, it was so worth the wait," said the 22-year-old, brandishing two iPad boxes after his long wait in the chill of the late Australian autumn.

The international launch date was pushed back by a month after huge demand in the United States, where one million iPads were sold in the first 28 days after the product's debut in early April.

Prices in Japan and Australia for the basic 16GB iPad are comparable to US prices, once sales tax is included, although a significant markup by Apple in Britain and continental Europe has triggered some grumbling.

In Australia a 64GB version that runs on advanced 3G phone networks is priced at 1,049 dollars (889 US), which in sterling terms is around 13 percent cheaper than in Britain.

In Japan, whose corporate giants once ruled the technology roost, more than 1,000 buyers lined up in front of Apple stores and outlets of its exclusive local partner, mobile phone carrier Softbank, along with big electrical shops.

Media crews flocked to the stores as broadcasters flew helicopters to gain aerial views of a 1,200-strong queue at the Apple store in Tokyo's Ginza shopping district.

Kazuki Miura, a 38-year-old freelance technology writer wearing a home-made iPad headpiece, was the first to get his hands on the brand-new gadget at Softbank's main Tokyo store.

"Now the time has come for us to hold an iPhone in the right (hand) and iPad in the left - just like the samurai with two swords!" Softbank president Masayoshi Son said at an in-store presentation.

The multi-functional device is tipped by some pundits to revitalise media and publishing, with many major newspapers and broadcasters launching applications.

But in Japan, content providers including powerful newspaper groups - less affected by the market downturn that is roiling media groups in the West - are taking a wait-and-see approach about rolling out iPad "apps".

On London's upmarket Regent Street, Jake Lee, a 17-year-old student from Essex, was at the front of the queue with two friends after a 15-hour wait that had stretched since midday Thursday.

The group had received "a few weird looks" and an offer of 200 pounds (290 dollars) to give up their places at the front of the queue, but they refused. "It's for us, we don't want to give it to anyone else," said Lee.

California-based Apple plans to bring the iPad to Austria, Belgium, Hong Kong, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Singapore in July.

More than 5,000 apps have been developed for the device, according to an Apple spokesman, in addition to the 200,000 programs already available for the iPhone and iPod Touch, most of which run on the iPad.

Capital Markets analyst Mike Abramsky estimated that Apple is selling more than 200,000 iPads a week - more than estimated Mac computer sales of 110,000 a week, and vying with iPhone 3GS sales of 246,000 a week.

Apple has declined to reveal the number of pre-orders received for the iPad internationally, but Abramsky put it at around 600,000.

burs-dwa/jit

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + uncapped commission : SThree: Hello! I know most ...

    Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Performance Consultant Trainee

    £22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Consultant trainee opportunit...

    Ashdown Group: Web Developer - ASP.NET, C#, MVC - London

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Web Developer -...

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Analyst

    £17000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Technical Analyst required for ...

    Day In a Page

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss