More than 750 gadget fans spent hours of waiting in line outside Apple’s flagship store in New York to get their hands on the new iPad, which went on sale at 8:00 a.m. today.
The lines outside the Fifth Avenue store were even longer than experts expected, with people huddling together in sleeping bags – and others making money off their places in the line.
Amanda Foote, who camped for nearly 48 hours, received an offer of $1,000 for her spot, behind only two other customers – but was hoping to collect even more for the coveted position.
The queues through the night – across the United States and the nine other countries where the iPad was launched – came despite Apple accepting online orders a week ago.
According to experts, the lines through city centres are worth $700 million to Apple. Not only are customers forking out $499 for an iPad, but they are giving Apple millions in free publicity.
Analysts told SmartMoney that the coverage is worth more than Apple’s worldwide marketing budget, which was nearly $700 million in 2010.
“The Apple lines have become a cultural phenomenon,” social psychologist Matt Wallaert said.
“You couldn’t advertise your way into the images of adoring fans that led to Beatlemania. Apple has achieved exactly that.”
Patient customers across the country said the product was well worth the wait.
“The screen resolution is amazing,” Robby Grossman told the Boston Globe. Tech reviewer Daniel Romero added: “After an hour of use I can say it was worth spending $500 and waiting in line for.”
Others were battling the queues to make a profit.
Dan Krolikowski, 34, was first in line at a Madison, Wisconsin mall after arriving 14 hours early.
“Last year I sold one on eBay and made over $500 in profit,” Dan Krolikowski said from his reclining chair at the head of the line.
“I’m hoping to do that again this year.”
At the flagship Apple Store on New York’s Fifth Avenue, the way many customers were paying for two iPads each suggested many of the tablets were destined to be resold abroad.
“My buddy’s paying me $120 to wait in line for him,” he said.
“He’s going to come over here at eight and pay for the iPads – he’s buying two of them.”
The line-up of fanatics at the store was comprised of many people who turned out for the launch of the iPad 2 last year, according to Russian Michael Sochin, 29.
When asked why he felt the need to get the iPad on the day of its release, rather than skipping the queues and waiting for a week, Michael Sochin said: “I don’t know… it’s like a drug.”
A queue has already formed outside the flagship Apple store on London’s Regent Street as people wait to snap up the gadget when it goes on sale.
Zohaib Ali, 21, of Uxbridge, who is the first in line after queuing for five days, said: “The iPad is the best product of the year and there won’t be any more until 2013 so I am happy to queue. I love Apple products.”
Zohaib Ali suffers from autism and his mother, Rahat Ali, believes that Apple products have helped him overcome his disability.
Rahat Ali said: “Apple products are very good for autism. They are very easy to use and he is relaxed when he is using them. Usually he doesn’t want to go out in a crowd but he is very happy queuing here.”
The tablet computer, which has a higher resolution screen than previous models and a five megapixel camera with auto focus and auto exposure, ranges in price from £399 ($630) to £659 ($1,040) in UK.
Despite competition from cheaper rivals the iPad remains the most popular tablet computer. Apple has sold more than 55 million iPads since its launch in 2010, including 40 million last year.
Zohaib Ali’s friend, Ali Tarighi, 18, of Acton, has been queuing with him since Saturday morning. He said of the new iPad: “I wanted to be one of the first to get my hands on it really.”
Ali Tarighi added: “It can be hard at times, especially at nights. It gets really cold but it’s going to feel great when I hold the iPad up in triumph.”
Those waiting were handed free food and drink by companies they had contacted through Twitter.
Harry Barrington-Mountford, 22, of Upminster queued to buy the iPad 2 with his girlfriend Fenella Barnes, 30, and is now waiting for the newest model.
He said: “We had such a great time queuing last time that we decided to do it again. People always stop to talk to us. I am exhausted though, I have only had about 45 minutes of sleep.”
Fenella Barnes is not intending to buy an iPad for herself but is queuing up to buy one for a friend. She said: “I have been tempted to get one but I haven’t been tempted enough. If I had a spare £500 [$790] then maybe I would consider it!”
Customers have also been queueing overnight in other countries including France and Singapore.
The very first customer in the world to buy the new device was 34-year-old construction manager David Tarasenko, who grabbed one at the stroke of midnight at a Telstra store in Melbourne, Australia.
While the new pad is more of an evolution than a revolution in most areas, it is not hyperbole to refer to the display as a revolutionary jump, and it appears to be love at first sight for every single person who gets a glimpse.
Reviewers are gushing over the 3.1million pixel screen, comparing the experience to that first moment of putting on prescription glasses after years of poor eyesight.
While Apple are notoriously clever at pre-launch PR, and cherry-pick their review outlets, even the most unbiased of reviewers, such as the highly-regarded Walt Mossberg of AllThingsDigital, can’t help but fall in love with the crystal-clear display.