Apple fans snap up new iPad
TOKYO-Gadget lovers in Australia and Japan became the first people to snap up the new iPad on Friday, with Apple looking to tighten its grip on the tablet market with its third generation launch.
Just before the worldwide rollout began, New York-traded shares in the company shot above $600 for the first time, as investors looked to cash in on the anticipated success of the latest “must-have” device.
Following Sydney’s lead, more than 450 people queued outside the Apple flagship store in Tokyo’s glitzy Ginza district to be among the first to get their hands on the new iPad.
The latest version boosts a more powerful processor, increasing pressure on competitors including Google to make devices more enticing.
A key upgrade is its eye-grabbing screen resolution, or Retina display, which Apple says is the sharpest ever on a mobile device.
Ryo Takahashi, 25, who arrived at the Tokyo store wearing a head band saying “I am an iPad samurai!” said the new Retina display was a good enough reason to queue up.
“Once you start using the Retina display, you just cannot go back to the old one.”
Dozens of those waiting said they had begun their vigil last night, with some, including 19-year old university student Ryo Watanabe having started even earlier.
“I am so excited. I finally got it. I waited for this for 36 hours,” he said as he emerged from the store with the brand new package in his hands.
“I have an iPad2 and use it all the time at school. I am looking forward to the clear display,” he said.
The new tablet is being released in Australia, the United States, France, Canada, Germany, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland, Britain and Hong Kong on Friday.
Anticipation ahead of the launch saw Apple shares briefly top $600 for the first time on Wall Street on Thursday before closing at $585.56. The stock has gained more than 50 percent in the past three months alone.
Australia was the first place to get the new device — for which Apple has abandoned its numbering system, opting to call it simply the “new iPad” instead of the expected “iPad3″.
Several hundred people were gathered outside the company’s Sydney store when it opened at 8:00 am local time (2100 GMT Thursday).
But the first of the new iPads were not collected from Apple, instead from shops owned by Australian telecom giant Telstra in Sydney and Melbourne, which threw their doors open just after midnight.
However, the hype for Friday’s launch was not on the scale seen for the launch of iPad2, when people began camping out up to four days before.
Only one person had staked his claim outside by mid-afternoon Thursday and he was being paid to do so.
Former truck driver Steve Parkes began his vigil on Monday after being offered Aus$950 (US$1,000) by a jobs site to line up wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the employment company’s logo.
The free publicity garnered by an Apple launch seems to have caught on, with others donning promotional shirts in front of the barrage of television cameras.
The new iPad also boasts an improved camera, more powerful processor and the ability to connect to the latest 4G LTE telecom networks in North America. However, in many markets it will still be stuck on the slower 3G networks.
The new tablet has generated good reviews worldwide but Rob Livingstone, an IT expert at Sydney’s University of Technology, said its success could be short-lived.
“It’s like any other technology, there’s always better, faster, sharper, newer five minutes after you’ve purchased the product you’ve just purchased, and the iPad’s no different,” he told AFP.
While the almost cult-like status of Apple shows no signs of waning among consumers, he suggested that with Apple co-founder Steve Jobs now dead the momentum could start to taper off.
“It makes me wonder, now that Steve Jobs has passed on, how long that momentum will last because it’s a competitive world,” he said.
“You look at (Samsung’s) Galaxy and a whole range of competitors are coming on with some very compelling offers, and I think time will tell whether Apple will lose some of its gloss.”
Jobs, the mind behind the wildly popular iPod, iPad and iPhone devices, died in October after battling pancreatic cancer.
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