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
product’s 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 Apple’s 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
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.
“I’m not a victim of hype,” she insisted. “I know Apple products and
it’s about the quality, the interface, how it’s 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.
“I’m not a fan of gadgets,” Jean-Maurice Demers told AFP. “But I’m
involved in several political committees and community groups and I’m
tired of dragging around several kilograms (pounds) of files.”