About 15 aspiring iPad owners heartened by sunshine and spring temperatures had taken up positions outside the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue by 4:00 pm (2000 GMT) Friday to wait for sales to commence at 9:00 the following morning (1300 GMT).
Eleven-year-old Giovanna Mullen said she staked out her place outside the store at 5:00 am Friday with her mother Jeanney Mullen and her grandmother Tony Digiorno.
The girl proudly described herself as the owner of an iPod Touch and said her mother has an iPod and a Macintosh computer, both iconic creations of California-based Apple.
“We brought food, blankets…so, the three generations will say they slept together in the streets of New York,” Digiorno said.
Like others in the queue, the trio had not pre-ordered iPads so resorted to hours of waiting to get the gadgets.
“I am buying two, for me and for my daughter,” said Jeanney Mullen, who noted she works in digital publishing and is intrigued by the iPad.
Newspapers and magazines are eagerly tailoring interactive, digital editions in a hope that the iPad heralds a new way to deliver content and bring in revenue.
“The company knows I am here so the boss asked me to buy one for him,” Jeanney Mullen said. “But as I cannot buy more than two, my mother will.”
The Apple iPad launches in the United States on Saturday with an apparent deluge of early online orders indicating that the touchscreen slate-style computers will be another big hit for the company.
Apple promised that its latest creation will be available in the company’s retail shops and at Best Buy consumer electronics chain stores beginning at 9:00 am in respective US time zones.
People who ordered iPad devices early should receive them on Saturday as well.
Demand for iPads has evidently blasted past Apple expectations and as of Monday notations at the online Apple Store alerted buyers that new orders would not be shipped until April 12 or “late April” depending on models.
Apple has not released details of how many iPads will be available for the Saturday launch but some estimates put the figure as high as a several hundred thousand.
“I am registered to buy an iPad, so I will be among the first,” said Richard Goodyear, 36, who had a spot in the queue.
“I have to go back to Germany so I just want to be sure I get it. I am also a blogger, this is the kind of story the bloggers are fascinated with.”
The notepad-sized iPad with its touch screen allows users to watch video, listen to music, play games, write emails, surf the Web or read electronic books.
The iPad also runs most of the 150,000 applications made for the iPod music player and the iPhone.
The iPad model featuring Wi-Fi wireless connectivity will be available in Apple’s US stores from April 3 and the model that offers both Wi-Fi and 3G cellular connectivity in late April, Apple said.
The company said both the Wi-Fi and 3G models will be available in Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain and Switzerland in late April and in additional countries later this year.
Excitement outside the Apple store seemed toned down in comparison to the carnival atmosphere around the throngs of people who camped outside Apple stores for days to be among the first to get iPhones in 2007.
While Apple has been secretive about iPad supply numbers, analysts estimate the company will sell several hundred thousand of the devices during the weekend and more than two million by the end of September.