The latest version of Apple’s iPad tablet computer is thinner, faster, and faster selling as the queues outside shops worldwide proved.
Buyers were out in droves as the device went on sale in 25 countries including most of Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Mexico.
For the fans it was all camaraderie and fun: as James Dounis, queuing up to buy in Sydney, Australia, said: “It is exciting because we haven’t done it before and just the atmosphere, everyone else is here, and everyone is looking forward to the same thing you are, so it is just a whole different experience altogether.”
But for Apple and its growing band of tablet rivals it is the difference between profit and loss.
The iPad has hugely boosted demand for tablets. Fewer than 20 million of the computers were sold last year – over 95 percent of those were iPads.
Technology research company Gartner predicts 54.8 million tablets sales this year, rising to 154.2 in two year time.
However, in the near term, the disaster in Japan will likely mean a shortage of some components used in the iPad causing Apple to struggle to meet demand.
It remains to be seen if that will benefit its distant rivals – including Samsung, Motorola, Research In Motion and Hewlett-Packard.