iPad fans mob Apple stores for international launch

Gadget fans compare the iPad with two rivals

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Thousands of gadget fans have mobbed shops around the world as Apple began the international launch of its iPad.

A 200m (656ft) queue formed outside Apple's flagship Sydney store in Australia, and there were similar scenes in Tokyo, Japan.

The 25cm (10in) device is also going on sale in the UK, Canada, and parts of Europe as part of a staggered global roll-out.

One million iPads were sold in 28 days after its launch in the US.

The international launch date was pushed back by a month after huge demand in the US where the product went on sale in early April.

Despite the success, some have criticised the iPad saying it was a closed system that limited what people could do with the books, magazines, music and video they enjoy.

The tablet-device is also starting to see competition from other devices such as the Dell Streak and the established Archos media tablets. Similar devices that run Google's Android operating system are also expected to be released late in 2010.

'Worth the wait'

In Sydney, security guards were on hand to deal with the crowds of shoppers.

Rahul Koduri, who queued for more than 24 hours, became the first to buy the touch-screen computer at Apple's George Street store.

"It's fantastic, it was so worth the wait," the 22-year-old, who bought two iPads, told the AFP news agency.

In Japan, more than 1,000 gadget enthusiasts lined up in front of Apple stores and major electrical shops in Tokyo.

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Magazine editors are enthusing about the possibility of glossy interactive editions which will convince premium advertisers to keep spending”

End Quote Rory Cellan-Jones Technology correspondent

Some Apple stores in the UK opened an hour earlier than usual, at 0800 BST (0700 GMT), to allow fans to get their hands on the device.

First in line outside Apple's flagship shop in Regent Street, London, was student Jake Lee, 17.

"I just came down for the atmosphere, and I don't think I could have waited. I'm a gadget lover," he told The Times newspaper.

The world's tallest married couple, Wilco van-Kleef and Keisha Bolton, also turned up to promote the Guinness World Records iPad app.

The iPad will go on sale in Austria, Belgium, Hong Kong, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Singapore in July.

Two versions of the iPad are available. One only uses wi-fi to connect to the net and the other uses both wi-fi and the 3G mobile technology.

Will you buy an Apple iPad on its launch day? What do you think of the product? You can send us your views using the form below.

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