Apple aficionados are lining up again this morning as the company's newest tablet goes on sale.
The new iPad as it's officially called - Apple has refrained from calling it iPad 3 - will be available starting at 8 a.m. local time at Apple Inc's almost two dozen Canadian stores. It has faster chips, fourth-generation wireless, a crisper display and a better camera, making it harder for competitors like Samsung’s Galaxy, which also lack Apple’s range of apps and content, to catch up.
Other retailers, including Future Shop, are also planning to open early to cater to the lines of Apple fans desperate to get their hands on the new tech toy.
The cheapest WiFi-only model goes for $519, while the most expensive version, which can access mobile networks and has 64 gigabytes of storage, sells for $849.
Those who can't find one of the new iPads in stores today may have to wait a while to buy one.
Apple says online orders cannot be filled for another two or three weeks.
The newest iPad was looking like another hot seller in Asia and Europe, with hundreds queueing at stores to get their hands on a gadget likely to dominate the tablet-computer market well into next year.
“I just got hyped into it, I guess,” said David Tarasenko, a 34-year-old construction manager who was the first to pick one up from a Telstra store at midnight in Sydney.
Daniel Bader, a software developer who builds iPad apps and was queuing outside the Apple store in Munich, said: “You can’t explain it.”
Even in a tough economic climate in some parts of the world, many buyers, like 27-year-old Steve Henry in Paris, said they would scrimp elsewhere if necessary.
“I save money on my other purchases for high-tech shopping,” said Henry, a systems engineer at a railway company who was hoping to buy his first iPad mainly to watch films and read during his more than two hours of travel per day.
Analysts expect a strong start for the latest iPad and some even expect sales of the current model to overtake the iPad 2. So far, the company has sold 55 million iPads since it was launched, kicking off the tablet market, in 2010.
Apple will continue to sell the iPad 2 but has dropped its price by $100 to start at $399.
Tablet sales are expected to increase to 326 million by 2015 with Apple largely dominating the market, according to research firm Gartner, rivalling sales of desktop computers, which Gartner expects to total 368 million units this year.
The enduring popularity of Apple products, and stock, have provided Chief Executive Tim Cook, who took over after the death of Steve Jobs last year, with a good start in the job.
The share price peaked at just over $600 half an hour after the first iPad went on sale, extending the market worth of the world’s most valuable company to almost $560 billion.
Only a month earlier, the stock price had crossed $500 for the first time. It has jumped 45 percent this year.
Canaccord Genuity analysts raised their target price on Apple stock to $710 from $665. Dickie Chang, an analyst with technology research firm IDC, said Cook will need to do more in future to keep up the firm’s astonishing momentum.
“The iPad is already a pretty mature product and it’s hard to revolutionize it any further,” he said.
“Going ahead, with Tim Cook at the helm now, I think he may have to come up with another product to mark his stamp. That could come in the form of launching a smaller iPad with a longer battery life, for instance.”
UBS raised its target price to $675 from $550, and said the expected launch of the redesigned iPhone 5 in October was the big catalyst ahead.
With files from Reuters