Hundreds of Apple fans in Japan queued to snap up the iPad 2 on Thursday as the latest version of the popular tablet finally went on sale after a month-long delay caused by the March 11 quake and tsunami. Customers in Tokyo waited patiently from early morning outside Apple’s main stores in downtown Ginza and the shopping district of Shibuya, many killing time by playing on or reading from their previous-generation devices. “I was determined to get the new model as it is thinner and lighter” than the original model, Masahiko Asakura, 40, said as he came out of the Ginza store, adding that he would now give his old iPad to his parents.
“The launch was a long time coming for me,” said a 22-year-old physics student who only gave her surname as Kobayashi. “I thought the first model was a bit heavy, but the new one seems the right size for me.” As the spring sun heated the pavement, Apple distributed bottled water and black parasols with the Apple logo to many of those queueing up to spend 44,800-60,800 yen (US$548-US$743) on the latest gadget. The iPad 2, which hit stores in the United States on March 11, had been scheduled to go on sale in Japan on March 25.
But the launch was pushed back as Japan dealt with its worst disaster since World War II, which has left more than 26,000 people dead or missing and sparked a nuclear crisis at the tsunami-hit Fukushima atomic plant. With many consumers in a jittery or glum mood since the calamity, data released Thursday showed household spending plunged by 8.5 per cent in March from a year earlier, the biggest drop since records began in 1964.