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    Saturday, April 3, 2010

    Reuters - Apple's iPad hits store shelves; testing begins

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    Apple's iPad hits store shelves; testing begins

    Saturday, Apr 03, 2010 9:9PM UTC

    By Sinead Carew and Paul Thomasch

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Apple Inc's iPad hit store shelves on Saturday after months of breathless buildup, kicking off a critical sales period that will determine if the sleek tablet computer becomes the next blockbuster.

    At Apple's flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York City, cheers went up from employees as shoppers entered the shop at 9 a.m. (1300 GMT), emerging a few minutes later carrying the first iPads, a device touted as a bridge between a laptop and smartphone.

    Hours after the doors opened, the store remained loud and bustling. Some customers, like Simon Cox, immediately cracked open their new iPads for a trial run.

    Cox, a high school math teacher visiting from Manchester, England, said he tested his device with a quick email to friends and family.

    "It looks fantastic, so nice to hold and play and touch," he said, noting that the iPad is smaller than he expected. "It's easier to carry around. I certainly know I'll use it when I'm out and about."

    Technology experts also rushed to have a firsthand look at the gadget, taking apart the iPad to catalog its components and inner workings. One firm, iFixit, an Apple parts and repair specialist, revealed the iPad includes chips from Samsung Electronics, Broadcom, and Texas Instruments.

    Wall Street is curious to see if the device -- which went on sale at the company's more than 200 retail outlets in the United States, along with many Best Buy stores -- can win a mass following and will be monitoring crowds this weekend to gauge its appeal.

    If so, it could provide another boost to Apple, whose stock has been hitting record highs, as well as companies that provide parts and components for the iPad.

    Crowds built steadily at stores around the country beginning early on Friday, with shoppers waiting at locations in New York, Washington, Boston and San Francisco. But the lines were noticeably shorter than those that ushered in the iPhone in 2007.

    Will Kiefer, 28, who waited at a store at Burlington Mall, north of Boston, said he hoped the iPad would allow him to break away from his desktop computer -- and avoid buying a laptop.

    "I think this will do everything for me that I need. ... I'll do my random New York Times reading from the iPad," said Kiefer, a freelance software developer who is among those hoping to develop some apps for the new device.

    In Richmond, Virginia, about 100 people gathered at an Apple store, drinking coffee and mingling in a festive atmosphere.

    Matt Reidy, IT director at a company called snagajob.com, said he got there at 1 a.m. and was first in line. "My wife thinks I'm crazy," said Reidy, 43. "She said I'd be the oldest person out there."

    Because customers have been able to pre-order the gadget since mid-March, there was little reason to stand in line for the launch. Those who ordered early enough online were to get their iPads on Saturday, from store pickups or home delivery.

    Analysts say the company received several hundred thousand pre-orders, with sales estimated at anywhere from 4 million to 7 million in the gadget's first year.

    MUCH AT STAKE

    Apple has plenty riding on the iPad, which it introduced in January and calls a new category of device: a lightweight media consumption device that tries to fuse the best attributes of a smartphone and a laptop.

    The iPad's touchscreen measures 9.7 inches. At 1.5 pounds (680 g), it resembles an oversized iPhone and runs on the same operating system. It starts at $499 for a short-range Wi-Fi model, topping out at more than $800 for a 3G-enabled version.

    The iPad is designed for using media of all sorts, including games, video, pictures, e-books and magazines. It can access roughly 150,000 existing iPhone apps, as well as new ones freshly designed for the iPad.

    Apple is also launching its own digital book business to compete with the Kindle from Amazon.com Inc and other e-readers and e-books.

    The iPad is the first in a wave of lightweight tablet devices expected to land this year from rival vendors, including Hewlett-Packard Co and Dell Inc.

    The question is whether the iPad can attract a mainstream following beyond the first few months of excitement.

    Technology enthusiasts have praised the iPad's beautiful screen and fast Web browser, but also have pointed out some missing pieces. It lacks a camera, cannot run more than one app at a time, and it cannot view popular video sites that use Adobe's Flash software.

    Reviewers at The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal said the iPad works nicely for Web surfing and multimedia -- but may appeal less to people who need computers for more heavy-duty chores.

    Saturday's iPad launch is only in the United States, and only for the Wi-Fi model.

    (Additional reporting by Gabriel Madway in Richmond, Va. and Ros Krasny in Boston, and Christopher Michaud in New York; Editing by Edwin Chan, Jan Paschal and Doina Chiacu)

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    CNN - First iPad buyers excited, curious

    Sent from bombastic4000@yahoo.com's mobile device from http://www.cnn.com.

    First iPad buyers excited, curious


    Thousands of people emerged from stores across the United States on Saturday clutching newly purchased iPads, the tabletlike computer that's Apple's most-awaited product since the first iPhone launched three years ago.

    Some buyers said they wanted a lightweight computer they could carry around easily or use from their couch, while others were diehard Apple fans who said they were eager to possess the company's latest gadget -- even if they're not sure what they'll use it for.

    "I don't know what it is -- I just think it's going to be something that's really cool," said Mark Bowling outside an Apple store at Lenox Square mall in Atlanta, Georgia. "I can't figure out how to use it if I don't have one."

    Anecdotal reports suggested strong initial consumer interest in the device, which went on sale Saturday morning. At Apple's flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York, hundreds of shoppers -- many of whom had camped out overnight -- were in line when the doors opened at 9 a.m.

    Employees at an Apple store at 14th Street and Ninth Avenue in New York told shoppers they expected to be sold out of iPads by the end of the day, Julio Ortiz-Teissonniere told CNN's iReport.

    Lines of more than 100 people also were reported Saturday morning outside Apple stores in Miami, Florida, and Atlanta. Rain failed to keep away a crowd of umbrella-wielding iPad buyers outside an Apple store in Chicago, Illinois.

    "I'm really excited. I've been craving this for a long time," said a young man who was the first to buy an iPad at an Apple store in Miami Beach, Florida. The man, who gave his name to Miami's WPLG-TV as Frank Gonzalez, held his iPad box over his head triumphantly as other shoppers cheered.

    A cross between a netbook and a smartphone, the iPad is a lightweight, portable computer with a glass multitouch screen that wirelessly surfs the Web, displays photos and videos, runs apps and plays games and movies, among other potential uses.

    "I've been waiting for this form factor for a long time," said computer programmer Robert Wojciechowski, 31, outside the Lenox Square Apple store in Atlanta.

    "I think it fills a gap between the desktop, the laptop and the phone," he said. "It's the appliance that I've wanted on my coffee table."

    Other buyers said they were excited about the iPad's potential as an electronic reader whose 9-inch color screen will show e-books plus newspaper and magazine articles.

    Mary Inman, 58, said she will take the device on vacations to Mexico instead of lugging five or six books. Inman, waiting outside the Lenox Square store, said she grew jealous of her husband and daughter, both of whom own e-readers.

    A self-confessed Apple fanatic, Inman said she already owns two iPods, an iPhone, an iMac, a MacBook and an Apple TV console. "I'm one of those," she said.

    Prices for the iPad range from $499 to $829, depending on storage space and whether the device works with a Wi-Fi connection only or with Wi-Fi and AT&T's wireless 3G network.

    The iPads that went on sale Saturday at Apple's 200-plus retail stores in the United States, at Best Buy stores and through iTunes, Apple's online store, were Wi-Fi-enabled models. iPads that also work over 3G networks will go on sale in late April, Apple has said.

    Saturday's launch was in the U.S. only. All models of the iPad will go on sale in late April in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

    Anticipation for the iPad's release has been building since Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the device in San Francisco, California, in January.

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