Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

The iPad's soggy launch in China

September 17, 2010: 5:56 AM ET

Heavy rains -- and a lively grey market -- may have dampened the turnout in Beijing

Photo: M.I.C Gadget via Flickr

There were plenty of reporters but only about 100 customers queued up outside Apple's (AAPL) Beijing retail outlet at 8 a.m. Friday when sales of the iPad officially began in China.

The first customer, Han Ziwen, wearing a blue "I BUY IPAD NO 1" T-shirt, was mobbed by the press as he emerged with a box in each hand. He had been camped out in front of the store for more than two days.

Apple seemed to have plenty of Wi-Fi-only iPads in stock. The company has not yet announced when it will begin selling 3G+Wi-Fi model in China. Both models, however, are available in Beijing's busy grey market -- along with plenty of dodgy knockoffs.

PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images

Apple's prices for Wi-Fi-only iPads range from $586 for the 16 GB model to $822 for 64 GB. Grey market 64 GB 3G+Wi-Fi models can be had for about $1,000.

The customers who turned out Friday seemed to put a premium on buying the real thing directly from the manufacturer.

"With this I have peace of mind," one customer told the Wall Street Journal in the video posted below the fold. "If you have a problem you can come back here and get it fixed."

Below: The Journal's video. (Also available here.) UPDATE: And a Reuters video report via YouTube.

Wall Street Journal:

Reuters:

See also:

[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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