Crowds queue up for iPads as Apple officially launches the tablet PC at stores in Beijing, Shanghai and authorised outlets across China
ASIA-COMPANYASIA - Never mind that it's been available for months now in the grey market, hundreds still queued in the rain at Apple's Sanlitun store in Beijing, anxious to get their hands on the official version of Apple's latest hot seller, the iPad.
First in line was bookstore owner Han Ziwen, who had waited 60 hours to be the first to get into the flagship Apple store.
He walked off the elated owner of two iPads, and is now officially China's first iPad buyer.
BOOKSTORE OWNER HAN ZIWEN SAYING
"I did it. Being a Chinese person, I just want to buy Apple products that I like in a Chinese Apple outlet store. I am against buying smuggled consumer goods, I don't buy pirated DVDs, I don't read pirated books."
Even a 20 percent markup on iPad prices did not deter buyers, many of whom had waited in-line since Tuesday.
For first-time Apple buyer Lei Dawei, the moment could not have come sooner.
FIRST-TIME APPLE BUYER LEI DAWEI SAYING:
"I have waited for such a long time, so I'm really happy to finally get it. What I'm looking forward to now is immediately taking it home and using it."
Analysts predict strong demand for the iPad despite a lack of Chinese content and the country's huge unofficial market for Apple products.
For months now, early Apple adopters willing to pay a premium, have been able to buy products slipped in from Hong Kong, Singapore and the U.S.
Apple also faces challenges from domestic tablet PC makers like Hanvon, which released its Touchpad earlier this year.
Analysts expect global sales of the iPad to hit around 10 million in 2010, and as much as 28 million next year.
Arnold Gay, Reuters