Cheers in China at iPad’s Launch

By Enjoli Francis

Sep 17, 2010 9:51am

ABC's Clarissa Ward and Beth Loyd report from China: Hundreds of Chinese braved the pouring rain and lined up for hours outside Beijing’s Apple store, eager to get their hands on an iPad — the first to be officially sold in China.  Stores in Beijing and Shanghai and authorized retailers around the country began offering the Wi-Fi model of the device, millions of which have already been sold in the U.S. and a dozen other countries.  Han Ziwen, wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with "I buy iPad No. 1," had camped out for 60 hours.  As he left the Apple store, he held up two iPads over his head and crowds of Chinese cheered.  Han, a bookstore owner, told reporters: "I could have bought an imported gray-market or pirated iPad, but I waited to buy the iPad directly from an Apple retail store."  Han waved a wad of cash and said he is proud to pay with renminbi, China’s national currency.  The store was buzzing with new owners learning how to use the devices.  China is the world’s largest Internet market and gray-market iPads and iPad wannabes have been on sale here for months.  Gray-market iPads can cost up to $1,000.  The 16-gigabyte Wi-Fi version costs about $600 and the 64-gig version costs $800, about 20 percent more than it costs to buy in the U.S. because of higher Chinese taxes.  Some new iPad owners said they spent one month’s salary.  Apple retail employees were on hand with umbrellas, coffee and water to give to those waiting in line outside.  Chinese "netizens" were torn about the iPad’s arrival.  One Internet user from Hubei province said, "Very good.  I lined up for more than 40 hours to buy it.  It’s a little bit crazy, but it’s worthy."  Another, from Shanxi, said, "The price is so high.  Don’t understand why so many people want to buy it.  I think it’s just for show."  Apple plans to have 25 new stores in China by the end of 2011.  The company has not said when the 3G-equipped version of the iPad will go on sale.  Analysts predicted strong demand for the iPad despite a lack of Chinese content and the plethora of gray-market products.  Apple’s App Store is not available in Chinese and users must have a dual-currency credit card to make purchases.  Today’s launch comes only five months after the U.S. launch.  Apple didn’t start selling the iPhone in China until October, two years after it was released in the U.S.  But China Unicom began taking pre-orders for the iPhone 4 Friday morning, which will reportedly cost Chinese customers about $875 and require a two-year contract with China Unicom. With the iPad’s launch in China, Apple may be on track to sell 12 million this year and millions more next year.  Apple’s stock rose Thursday ahead of the China launch, a clear indication that Apple is pushing forward in an important country it had long neglected. 

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