Apple's iPad sales kick off in U.S.

11:20, April 04, 2010      

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Sales of Apple Inc.'s widely anticipated iPad tablet computer began at 9 a.m. in the United States on Saturday with huge crowds lined up here to be the first to grab one.

The iPad, priced from 499 dollars, attracted people from around the world to Apple's flagship store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattahn.

"We came specially for the debut long away from Holland," customers Wim Hofman and Hans Schoemakers from the Netherlands told Xinhua outside the store.

"We spent some 3,000 euros on travel and hotel rooms specially for this event," they said.

With a 64-Gb iPad in his hands, Hofman, wearing a big smile, said "it's worth the time and money for this life-time fun."

According to media reports, Apple, which is based in Cupertino, California, could sell 7.1 million iPads globally this year, driven in part by “early adopters," people wanting to be the first to use new devices.

Only copies with Wi-Fi could be purchased on Saturday. Rates start at 499 dollars for a 16Gb model, 599 dollars for the 32Gb and 699 dollars for the 64 Gb.

Users can surf the Internet, read digital books, watch video and play games on the iPad.

Reviewers have praised its ability to deliver digital books and video quickly and said it measured up well against other devices, including Inc.’s Kindle e-book reader.

According to Bloomberg columnist Rich Jaroslovsky, iPad may "change the way people relate to computers, requiring users to learn a new language that Apple has made “both elegant and very easy to master.”

USA Today's Edward Baig called the iPad "fun, simple, stunning to look at and blazing fast.”

Apple is trying to remake the tablet -- a thin, handheld computer that’s essentially a big screen without a physical keyboard. Also known as slate computers, tablets have been available since the 1990s, without ever catching on. They account for less than 1 percent of the personal-computer market, according to research firm Gartner Inc.

However, iPad doesn't have a built-in camera or support Adobe Systems Inc.’s Flash software, used to watch much of the video on the Web. The device also lacks features that let users carry out multiple tasks at once.

The iPad would again test Apple’s ability to conquer new markets, said media reports. Since returning to the company in 1997, Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs revived the Macintosh computer business, reshaped digital music with the iPod and used the iPhone to push Apple into mobile telephony. Gains in those areas have propelled Apple revenue and profit to records.



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