iPad Hits the International Market
May 28 (Bloomberg) — Hundreds of Apple Inc. fans queued for as much as 40 hours in Australia and Japan to be among the first outside the U.S. to buy an iPad as it goes on sale from Sydney to Vancouver today.
About 400 hundred people, bundled in coats and scarves against the chill of the Southern Hemisphere autumn, formed a line outside Apple’s flagship store in Sydney’s central business district. For many that was preferable to ordering online and waiting weeks for delivery.
“It’s my boyfriend’s birthday today, so I’m buying him an iPad,” said Renera Thompson, 22, a dealer’s assistant. “I preordered one but then I got an e-mail saying it’s not going to be here till June. So I decided I’ll keep the one I preordered and I’ll wait in line and get him one.”
Apple is starting sales in Australia, Canada, Japan and six European countries after one million iPads were sold in less than a month after its April 3 debut in the U.S. The maker of the iPhone and iPod, which this week became the world’s most valuable technology company, has popularized a category of computer between a smartphone and a laptop. Apple may sell 8 million iPads this year, according to Royal Bank of Canada.
“The thing with Apple is it’s not just a piece of technology, it’s actually the whole experience,” said Rahul Koduri, 22, an engineering student from Sydney, who arrived at 2 a.m. yesterday to be first in line. “They just fit into your lifestyle so well. There’s no other product that does it.”
Six European Markets
Apple delayed release of the touch-screen tablet computers outside the U.S. after underestimating demand at home. The iPad will be available in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the U.K.
The Cupertino, California-based company is betting the iPad, which starts at 499 euros ($615) in continental Europe compared with $499 in the U.S., will entice enough consumers willing to pay a premium over low-cost notebooks. Rivals such as Microsoft Corp. have failed to turn tablet computers into popular consumer devices.
“To all those people who don’t think they need one, I just want to say you just wait and see,” said Toru Iijima, a 39-year old information technology professional from Tokyo. “This is great for people who don’t like computers; I want to get one for my grandparents and my child.”
Countries outside the U.S. are likely to account for 43 percent, or 3.5 million units, of iPad shipments this year, Mike Abramsky, an analyst at RBC in Toronto, wrote in a May 20 report. The U.S. will probably be the biggest market with 4.7 million units, followed by France with 805,000 and the U.K, with 585,000, according to the report.
The iPad has a 9.7-inch display that lets users view books and video, play games and surf the Internet on a backlit LED screen.
“I like the iPad because there’s a bigger choice of games and videos to play and it should be more fun because the screen’s bigger than the iPhone,” said Takechiyo Yamanaka, 19, who was first in line at Apple’s store in Tokyo’s downtown Ginza district after waiting since 4 p.m. on May 26. “I borrowed an iPad someone bought in the U.S. The sound and the actions have much more punch.”
Apple said this month that demand continues to exceed supply. Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs said Apple sold 1 million iPads in the first 28 days, compared with the 74 days the iPhone took to reach that mark.
Want, Don’t Need
The company’s European shops will open earlier than normal today to cope with demand. In the U.K. the stores will be refitted to display the iPad, said Alan Hely, a spokesman for Apple in Europe.
“I don’t really need it, but I want it,” said Jake Lee, a 17-year-old student, who was camping overnight outside the London store. “I decided I wanted to be one of the first people to get the iPad in the U.K.”
The iPad will spur a six-fold increase in industrywide shipments of tablet computers to 398 million by 2014, research firm IDC said this month. Shipments worldwide will rise to 46 million from 7.6 million this year, according to the Framingham, Massachusetts-based IDC.
On May 26, Apple became the most valuable technology firm in the world, after its market value hit $222.1 billion, higher than Microsoft’s $219.2 billion, on speculation it can keep adding customers for its iPhone, Macintosh computer and iPad.