SAN FRANCISCO - The updated version of Apple Inc.'s iPad tablet computer went on sale Friday afternoon and was greeted by the now-familiar lines of buyers outside Apple stores.
The Cupertino, Calif., company opened online sales of the iPad 2 at 1 a.m. Pacific time, well before they became available in West Coast stores at 2 p.m. and nationally at the same time.
Apple fans were eager to get their hands on the device as they waited at the company’s Fifth Avenue store in New York. The line of customers snaked through the street-level plaza.
Employees cheered from inside the store as iPad buyers entered. Alex Shumilov, a customer who traveled from Moscow to pick up two iPads, emerged first. The trendy device won’t go on sale outside the United States for another two weeks.
When the original version of the iPad debuted 11 months ago, Apple said it sold more than 300,000 in the first day. It ended up selling more than 15 million in the first nine months.
The new iPad model comes with several improvements over the original version but the same price tag – $499 to $829, depending on storage space and whether they can connect to the Internet over a cellular network. Analysts believe the improvement would make it more difficult for rivals to break Apple’s hold on the emerging market for tablet computers.
The iPad 2 looks much like the first iPad, only with a sleeker, lighter body and a curved back. Among changes is the inclusion of cameras for videoconferencing, one on the front and one on the back.
With the original iPad, Apple proved there is a large market for a tablet that’s less than a laptop and more than a smart phone, yet performs many of the same tasks.