'No rush yet' on US iPad launch day

Apple's iPad, the subject of frenzied industry speculation since its unveiling in January, has so far not drawn the hordes that ushered in the iPhone three years ago.

The afternoon before the much hyped tablet computer goes on sale, a smattering of customers lined up at stores in New York, Washington, Boston and San Francisco, in marked contrast to the thousands that accompanied the iPhone's debut in 2007.



Analysts say early sales have been strong.



But with many able to pre-order the gadget since mid-March, there was little reason to stand in line ahead of Saturday's 9 a.m. launch. Those who ordered early enough online get their iPads on Saturday, via pickup at a store or home delivery.



Apple has staked much of its reputation on the iPad, pitched as a revolutionary new category of device: a lightweight mobile computer that strives to combine the best attributes of a smartphone and a laptop.



It is Apple's most important launch since the iPhone. Wall Street is keen to gauge consumer response to the device, the firm's next growth driver, and the crowds at Apple stores this weekend may provide an early indication of its popular appeal.



On Friday, tech blogs picked up on what appeared to be pictures of the iPad's innards posted by the Federal Communications Commission on its Web site, giving techno-fans their first glimpse of pre-production components.



With the caveat that different parts may have been selected for the final iPad, Apple repair experts iFixit analyzed the photographs and concluded that the iPad uses Toshiba flash memory and a Broadcom communications chip alongside Apple's own A4 processor. It was unclear why the FCC posted the photos.



The iPhone set a high bar for product launches, with sales passing the 1 million mark within 74 days. Some of the more enthusiastic had waited in line for up to five days before the June 2007 launch date. Apple sold more than 2 million in the holiday quarter that year.



Analysts say the company has already received several hundred thousand pre-orders, with first-year iPad sales estimated at anywhere from 4 million to 7 million. .



The pre-orders also succeeded in whittling down the lines a day in advance.



Of course, there are always some hearty enough to wait overnight. At Apple's flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York, around 10 people were in line Friday afternoon. They came armed with beach chairs, umbrellas, jackets, McDonald's fast food, camping mats and other first-day-of-sale survival gear.



The mood was less festive elsewhere. It was all quiet at the Apple store on upscale Boylston Street in Boston at midday. Visiting Londoners Mark and Angela Rebbettes said at the store that they would likely swing back by on Saturday morning and try to get a look at the iPad.



"I think everyone's interested," said Mark Rebbettes, a salesman. Ultimately he thought he would buy one, although she didn't understand the point of the device.



The iPad is a sleek 9.7-inch touchscreen tablet that resembles an oversized iPhone and runs on the same operating system. It starts at $499 (£328) for a short-range Wi-Fi model and tops out at more than $800 (£526) for a high-speed, go-anywhere 3G-enabled version.



It is designed for consuming all sorts of media, from games and video, to electronic books and magazines. Analysts say content deals are key to the iPad's success.



The iPad can use most of the roughly 150,000 apps already available for the iPhone, and more than 1,000 new iPad apps are ready to go on launch day.



Among the iPad apps are an offering from Netflix to stream movies and one from Walt Disney's ABC network that features TV shows. There is a slew of games from developers such as Electronic Arts and startup ngmoco. Many analysts expect the iPad to provide stiff competition for Nintendo's DS and Sony's PSP devices.



In addition, iPad apps from the New York Times and News Corp's Wall Street Journal will offer some access to content from the two newspapers.



Apple is also launching its own digital book business that will compete with Amazon.com's Kindle.



No wonder iPad sales expectations keep climbing by the day. On Friday, research group iSuppli said it expects first-year shipments to hit 7 million in 2010. Many analysts expect Apple to sell 1 million or more iPads in the June quarter.



Reviews of the iPad have been largely positive, emphasizing its ample battery life and ease of use.



Saturday's iPad launch is only in the United States and only for the Wi-Fi model. It will be available in nine other countries later this month.



Apple's stock is up around 12 per cent this year and has been setting new all-time highs. Analysts say that regardless of how well the launch goes, its stock price is likely to slip next week as investors cash in profits.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'