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March 12, 2011

iPad 2 queues at US launch

by Darren Allan

Yesterday saw the US launch of Apple’s iPad 2 at 5pm (New York time), and there were the predictable queues of fanatics wanting to be one of the very first in the world to get their sweaty digits on its touchscreen.

However, according to a report on Macworld, some bad weather overnight deterred the ‘let’s-queue-the-day-before’ mob, and indeed the queues were pretty light just a couple of hours before launch.

And then the Apple faithful came, many of them having sold their original iPad on eBay, or passed it on to another family member, in preparation for getting an iPad 2 with its slicker design, faster processor and two cameras.

Macworld reckons that eventually, the queue at the New York flagship Apple store stretched down the block and around the corner. Come opening time, it matched the length of the queue which turned out for the original iPad launch.

The old chestnut of who was first in line is a slightly controversial one this time. In an age where tickets for popular music gigs are snapped up by people with no intention of seeing the band, who just want to flog them on eBay for a profit, a 20-year-old student bagged the first-in-line spot on Fifth Avenue.

She then auctioned that place, which was eventually bought by an iOS app developer for a reported $900. Good grief. The dev (can’t remember his name) said it was great publicity for him and his app (we forget what that’s called too) and worth every cent.

By all accounts, it was a similar story in other big American cities, with lines stretching around the block in Philadelphia, and a hundred plus strong queue in Boston.

There were reports of stock problems, however. Several folks from Florida and Oregon posted comments to the effect that there were queues of several hundred people for two or three hours, with only some getting iPad 2s before the rest were turned away.

Some were understandably upset to see people walking away clutching two or three tablets, as at some stores it appears that even though it should have been clear they didn’t have enough stock to go around, no ‘one-purchase-per-person’ policy was implemented.

Apple’s online store is currently stating that iPad 2 orders are subject to a two to three week delay before shipping, and it seems clear that the launch has been successful, except perhaps from the perspective of not fully being able to meet demand.

It seems that the analysts, with their predictions of double the original iPad sales in the first 24 hours, were correct.

The UK launch is in two weeks time, and at the risk of stoking Apple’s hype fire, if stock is seemingly thin in the US, how will levels be for the initial weeks in this country?

Get your tent, sleeping bag or deck chair and thick winter coat ready for a prolonged queueing session. Or alternatively, wait a couple more weeks until April…



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