Apple Cements Tablet Market Lead As New iPads is Selling Like Hotcakes

iPad 3 drew die-hard fans to stores in the U.S. and nine other countries Friday, many of whom waited for hours to be among the first to buy one.

Though the new iPad has only a few new features, analysts nonetheless expect Apple to dominate the tablet market well into next year. Photo: Silver Novice/Flickr

The latest version of the iPad went on sale at 8 a.m. local time, with 25 other countries getting it a week later. The new model has a faster processor, a much sharper screen and an improved camera, though the changes aren’t as big as the upgrade to the iPad 2.

As for London, Dipak Varsani, 21, got in line at 1 a.m. Thursday and said he was drawn by the new device’s better screen. “You’ve got clearer movies and clearer games,” he said. “I use it as a multimedia device.”

“I don’t think it’s worth the price but I guess I’m a victim of society,” Athena May, Paris.  “I just got hyped into it, I guess,” said David Tarasenko, a 34-year-old construction manager who was the first to pick one up from a Telstra wireless store at midnight in Sydney.

Zohaib Ali from Uxbridge, northwest London, was first in line outside the flagship Apple store on London’s Regent Street after queuing for five days. “The iPad is the best product of the year and there won’t be any more until 2013 so I am happy to queue. I love Apple products,” he said.

As Ali has autism, his mother Rahat Ali claimed that Apple products had helped him overcome his disability: “Apple products are very good for autism. They are very easy to use and he is relaxed when he is using them. Usually he doesn’t want to go out in a crowd but he is very happy queuing here.”

In Big Apple, the queues were much shorter comparing with previous years. “I came by at midnight and nobody was here,” said Peter Brown, 51, who owns a marketing and communications company in London and was waiting in line at Apple’s flagship New York City store on Fifth Avenue.

As Reuters writes, Apple’s rivals will try to beat the device. The new iPad starts at $499 in the United States, 479 euros ($630) in Germany and 42,800 yen ($510) in Japan. Only Amazon Inc’s far more basic Kindle Fire is significantly cheaper.

Apple is to keep on selling the previous model but the company has dropped its price by $100 to start at $399. Some analysts expect sales of the new iPad to overtake the old. According to recent reports, Apple has sold 55 million tablets since the first iPad was launched in 2010.

Tablet sales are predicted to increase to 326 million by 2015 with Apple largely dominating the market. By then tablets could rival sales of desktop computers, which the research firm Gartner expects to total 368 million units this year.

Dickie Chang, an analyst with technology research firm IDC, said Apple’s CEO Tim Cook will need to do more in future to keep up the company’s astonishing momentum.

“The iPad is already a pretty mature product and it’s hard to revolutionize it any further,” he said. “I think he may have to come up with another product to mark his stamp. That could come in the form of launching a smaller iPad with a longer battery life, for instance.”

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