Wi-Fi-enabled iPad hits stores

10:05, September 17, 2010      

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People wait outside Apple's mainland flagship store in Beijing Wednesday. The US company starts selling Wi-Fi -enabled iPads on the mainland today. Photo: CFP

Technology giant Apple Inc will launch its Wi-Fi-enabled iPad nationwide today, a move that is expected to have consumers beaming, but may bring frowns to the faces of both rivals and gray-market sellers.

Apple's iPads, which initially went on sale in the US in April, hit Apple stores and authorized distributors across the country this morning.

Consumers have lined up - some for up to three days - outside Beijing's Sanlitun store to get their hands on the hi-tech devices.

According to Apple, the 16 gigabyte (GB) version will retail for 3,988 yuan ($592.84), the 32GB will go for 4,788 yuan ($711.76) and the 64GB model for 5,588 yuan ($830.68).

Fang Li, a senior analyst with Analysys International, a Beijing-based research firm, said the prices are in line with the company's global pricing.

The appearance of the real thing in China is expected to make times tough for look-a-like sellers.

"Smuggled and faked iPads will become less popular, now that they've lost much of their price advantage," Fang said.

In an online survey Thursday conducted by Chineseportal Sina.com, over half of the 15,000-plus respondents indicated they would choose to buy the Apple product over a copy or smuggled device, despite the slightly higher price.

Wi-Fi networks are only available in some locations in the country such as hotels and coffee shops, putting restraints on iPad usage, Fang pointed out.

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