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iPad-mania as thousands queue for global roll-out

Thousands of die-hard Apple fans mobbed shops worldwide on Friday as the iPad, called a revolution in personal computing by some and limited and overhyped by others, began its global launch.

Long queues of customers snaked outside Apple shops in Australia and Japan hours before the opening and similar huddled masses turned out at stores in six European countries, including Britain and France.

The iPad a flat, 10-inch (25-centimetre) black tablet also went on sale in Canada as part of a global roll-out that was pushed back by a month due to huge demand in the United States.

One million iPads were sold in 28 days in the United States after the products debut in early April despite mixed reviews from consumers.

The product is the latest from Apple, which dethroned software giant Microsoft this week as the largest US technology company in terms of market value, to create a frenzy. At Apples flagship store in Paris, set in the prestigious mall beneath the Louvre museum, 24-year-old engineer Audrey Sobgou beamed as she walked away with one of the prized tablets.

Sobgou travelled 205 kilometres (127 miles) from her home town in Lille, northern France, and waited nearly two hours before stepping inside the busy Apple store.

Im not a victim of hype, she insisted. I know Apple products and its about the quality, the interface, how its designed and what it can do. With elegance and style.

Hundreds of people queued outside the Paris Apple store hours before it opened at 8:00 am.

In Britain, a few dozen enthusiasts waited outside the Apple store in central London at 3:00 am to get their hands on the iPad when it opened five hours later.

Staff escorted the first group of customers one by one up to buy their iPad after they opened the doors, whooping, chanting and cheering.

I queued overnight for about 20 hours since midday yesterday but it was very, very worth it, Jake Lee, a 17-year-old student from Essex, told AFP, clutching his treasured iPad.

The iPad also went on sale in Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland and will be followed in July by a launch in Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

Alejandro Barras, manager of the Apple store in downtown Madrid, said his iPad stock sold out one hour after opening.

Apple aficionados in Zurich camped out overnight in front of the store to buy the tablet and download some of the 5,000 available apps the name for the media applications that run on the device.

In Montreal, an 82-year-old man with a long white beard and a beret stood in line with about 100 people, some of whom arrived at the Apple store at 6:00 am.

Im not a fan of gadgets, Jean-Maurice Demers told AFP. But Im involved in several political committees and community groups and Im tired of dragging around several kilograms (pounds) of files.

AFP

 

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