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Long Lines, Protests Greet Apple Launch of New iPad

Apple customers use umbrellas as they wait in line at an Apple store on the first day of the launch of the new iPad, in San Francisco, March 16, 2012.
Apple customers use umbrellas as they wait in line at an Apple store on the first day of the launch of the new iPad, in San Francisco, March 16, 2012.

Apple's New iPad went on sale Friday. While the improvements are not revolutionary, technology experts say the upgraded device is poised to become another hot seller. Consumers around the world waited in line for hours to be among the first to own Apple's newest tablet computer. Not everyone is impressed, however, with the way Apple does business.

Now on sale in 10 countries, hundreds of people lined up at stores around the world - some camping overnight - to be among the first to own a third generation iPad.

And amid the hype that's become typical of Apple's product launches - those with the stamina and patience to be first - were treated like rock stars.

With prices starting at about $500 - Apples's newest tablet computer sports a faster processor, sharper graphics and an improved camera. Experts say it's not a big departure from the original, but Hong Kong professor Gino Yu said it represents the future.

"I think it will be very popular. For a large part of the population, it's kind of replaced their normal laptop computers and its really a media consumption device," said Yu.

But not everyone is enamored by Apple's latest offering.

In Washington and New York, protesters voiced concern for the workers who assemble Apple's products.

"We in the U.S. buy products without thinking about the workers that make them. And for just a few dollars more, Apple could be much more responsible to their workers in China," said one man.

The Fair Labor Association has been investigating the working conditions at Apple assembly plants in China, following reports of plant explosions, poor pay and worker suicides.

Apple manufacturer Foxconn says it is boosting wages as much as 25 percent, but workers there claim management also increased fees for dormitory rooms and food.

Protesters have gathered more than 250,000 signatures, encouraging Apple to take action.  

"Apple says they think different. We want them to think ethical. They're a market leader and if they took a step to have an internal worker protection strategy, it would really push the rest of the market to be part of that. That's what we, that's all we want them to do. We want them to be the leader that they say they are," said one woman.

But most consumers remain oblivious. Early buyers told reporters the wait for the new iPad was worthwhile. And most couldn't wait to take them home.

Apple currently dominates the tablet personal computer market - selling more than 55 million units since 2010. Some analysts predict Apple could sell as many as 60 million of the new iPads this year.

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