Apple iPad Launched In China

Hundreds lined up at Apple Stores in Beijing and Shanghai to be among the first to buy the tablet.

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The launch of the iPad in China drew big crowds Friday at the Apple stores in Beijing and Shanghai, as diehard fans lined up by the hundreds to be the first to have the tablet computer.

If there was any disappointment in only being able to buy the Wi-Fi version, it didn't show as people plucked the touch-screen device from store shelves as quickly as possible. Apple released the device in China several months after its debut in the U.S. and other countries. The company sold 3.3 million iPads in the second quarter alone.

At the Beijing store one fan camped out for more than two days for the honors of being the first to buy the iPad. Wearing a T-shirt saying "I buy iPad No. 1," Han Ziwen, 35, told the AFP new agency that he bought a 16 GB and 32 GB model for the equivalent of $1,305, which is more than the majority of Chinese make in a month. "For me, they are not expensive," the bookstore owner said.

Apple employees in Beijing served coffee and water and handed out umbrellas to fans who waited in line in heavy rain for the doors to open at 8 a.m., according to AppleInsider. In Shanghai, nicer weather made the wait more comfortable.

While the iPad arrived later in China than other countries, its debut was far sooner than the iPhone, which wasn't released in the country until last October, two years after it was made available in the United States. The iPhone delay fostered a gray market in which the smartphone was smuggled in from other countries. The high demand also led to a proliferation of fakes.

Analysts say Apple released the iPad sooner in order to stem a rising gray market of smuggled iPads and fakes, with many of the latter running Google's Android operating system. IPads brought in from other countries were selling for $700 for the 16 GB Wi-Fi edition to $960 for the 16 GB 3G-equipped model. The Wi-Fi-capable model released Friday in China starts at about $590.

Meanwhile, China Unicom, the country's second largest mobile operator, has started accepting pre-orders for the iPhone 4. However, like the iPhone 3G S before it, the latest Apple smartphone won't be cheap. Prices start at the equivalent of $874, with a deposit toward a two-year contract, according to The Wall Street Journal.

China is the world's largest Internet market with 420 million users.


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