We’ve reported quite a bit this past week about the madness and pandemonium that accompanied the opening of Apple’s newest store in Richmond. But that was nothing compared to what happened in China today when the iPad went on sale for the first time legally in the People’s Republic.
While units sold in Japan have often ended up in Chinese hands and there has been a healthy grey market for the iPad, this is the first time they have been officially available.
At the US tech giant’s Beijing store, Han Ziwen, 35, said he had camped out for 60 hours to ensure he was first in line when the flagship outlet’s doors opened at 8:00 am.
Wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with “I buy iPad No. 1”, the bookstore owner held two of the sleek computers above his head in a victory sign as hundreds of people standing in the rain cheered.
Han bought a 16-gigabyte and 32-gigabyte version of the iPad costing a total of 8,776 yuan (1,305 dollars) - more than the vast majority of Chinese earn in a month. But he said: “For me, they are not expensive.”
Chinese telecom companies are eager to enter into deals with Apple to provide service for the popular tablet computer, although there are local knock-offs available for some time. Observers have noted that the iPad’s functionality in China is limited, as the app store is not available in any Chinese language, does not accept the yuan for purchases and of course, there’s the ever-present problem of government censorship in China. For the Chinese people, the iPad is primarily a status symbol, available only to the wealthiest citizens.