Technophiles mobbed Apple stores in Europe and Asia on Friday to snatch the hottest gadget of the day - the iPad. Apple has sold more than a million of the small tablet computers since its U.S. launch last month, forcing the company to delay its international debut. As Mil Arcega reports, eager European fans waited in long lines to get their hands on the trendy device.
Long lines snaked outside Apple stores from London to Tokyo as eager buyers vied to be the first to take home the hot new gadget.
At one Apple store in central London, staff chanted and cheered as they counted the seconds to the official launch.
First in line - a student from Essex - who says he waited a long time for this moment. "Now it's all over, I'm so happy," he said
Apple officially launched the iPad in the U.S. in April. But the US-based company was forced to delay its worldwide debut due to high demand at home.
But self-described nerd Kenta Asata, said the wait was worth it. "I can't say anything. I'm happy, I'm happy, I'm the happiest in my life," he said.
The iPad, essentially a larger version of Apple's iPhone, can be used to send emails, watch movies or play games. It's also seen as a potential game changer for the struggling newspaper and magazine publishing industry, because of its built-in electronic reader.
In Rome, where some in line were greeted with espressos and juggling clowns, a man who identified himself as Vincenzo, said he was looking for an all-purpose computer. "I think I need it to do all the things it can do, like book reading, and to replace my computer during trips abroad," he said.
Equally excited fans greeted the launch from Hong Kong to Frankfurt, where some arrived as early as 3 am to be first in line.
British comedian and broadcaster Stephen Fry described the launch as part hype, part cultural event. "I know some people will regard that as peculiar for a digital device but it is, it's more like an album launch or a film premiere because the device is not just something for nerds, it has a cultural meaning too," he said.
Despite a weak economy, buyers seemed eager to spend anywhere between $600 to $1,000 for a little Apple culture.
Some European stores reported selling out their stock of iPads in under three hours.