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Saturday, April 3, 2010

iPad Mania: Crowds Flock to Apple Stores

It's iPad day!

Apple (AAPL) fanatics lined up outside Apple stores from coast to coast Saturday, hoping to get their hands on its hottest new gadget, the iPad tablet computer. At the store in New York's SoHo neighborhood, eager customers arrived early for the product's release, and by midday, the line still stretched around the block.

Youssouf Diallo (pictured), who emerged from the store grinning and clutching an iPad, says: "I bought it for my son, who goes to John Jay College." Diallo is originally from the Ivory Coast but has lived in New York for over two decades.

"He's going to use it in the library," Diallo says, beaming.

Pre-Orders Sell Out

The first iPads cost $499 to $699, depending on options like hard-drive space. Later models will include 3G mobile broadband at a higher price.
Buying on Faith

Demand was also strong at other New York locations. Needham & Co. analyst Charlie Wolf told The New York Times that during his visit to Apple's Fifth Avenue store, "customers were awed by their first encounter with the product."

"Weekend sales will exceed 300,000 units, and they might approach 500,000, although that's a stretch depending as much on the initial production run as initial demand," Wolf says.
Can Momentum Be Sustained?

Along with those purchasing gifts, like Diallo, the first wave of buyers are clearly Apple fanatics and "early adopters," who represent about 15% of the population, according to analysts. These people tend to be younger, wealthier, and more tech-savvy than other consumers.

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