Reports of its elegant design and sleek, wipe-clean surface have had would-be purchasers rubbing their hands in anticipation. But the official royal wedding loving cup – the latest addition to the official Royal Collection celebrating the impending nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton – isn't the only eagerly awaited purchase to become available today.
Two much-hyped new gadgets, the iPad2 and the Nintendo 3DS, also hit UK stores today, in a convergence of product releases that have caused some to dub it "must-have Friday".
Apple stores are preparing for frenzied scenes as the second generation of its groundbreaking tablet device goes on sale in the UK from 5pm today. Analysts estimate that Apple sold 500,000 iPad2 devices on its first day of sale in the US, and huge queues are expected to build during the day for the £399 upgrade, which adds front and rear-facing cameras to a thinner-designed model. The queue outside the Apple Store in London's Regent Street was headed by Jewels Lewis, 32, who began waiting at 7.30am yesterday. By the time he gets the new iPad he will have waited 33 hours.
Nintendo, meanwhile, was hoping to steal a march on the iPad by releasing its £179 3DS console, which allows users to play games and films in 3D without wearing glasses, at midnight last night.
Nintendo said it had received 140,000 pre-order sales on Amazon for the handheld device, which was made available at midnight openings at HMV stores across Britain.
Nintendo and Apple both maintained that European supplies of their gadgets would not be affected by component shortages caused by the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.
Some gadget-hungry customers are expected to commute from the late-night Nintendo store openings to Apple. But the iPad is also expected to be available for collection at launch from Argos and John Lewis, while Orange is offering a £200 iPad contract deal at its flagship London store.
But Luke Peters, editor of T3, the gadget magazine, warned that "must-have Friday" could turn into "must-return Saturday". "I gave the 3DS to my nieces to play with and the 3D began to hurt the eyes," he said. "Nintendo have to be clear about their warnings that it is not suitable for children aged six and under."
Peters predicted that gadget fans would be most excited about the iPad. "A lot of our readers said they were waiting for the second generation device with cameras for face-to-face conferencing."
The queues for iPads and 3DSs may not be quite as well-mannered as those for the latest must-have item of royal wedding memorabilia – the official William and Catherine loving cup. But the cachet of exclusivity is comparable. Only 1,000 of the double-handed mugs, which retail at £125, are available through Royal Collection gift shops.