Apple cements tablet market lead with new iPad

Fri Mar 16, 2012 3:31pm EDT
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By Ethan Bilby and Nicola Leske

LONDON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Apple Inc's newest iPad looked like another hot seller on Friday as hundreds lined up at stores around the world to get their hands on the tablet, though the crowds and waiting times in some cities were less than in previous years.

The third-generation iPad has only a few new features including faster wireless connectivity and a crisper display, but analysts nonetheless expect Apple to dominate the tablet market well into next year.

"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.

The buzz helped propel Apple shares to touch a record high of $600 on the Nasdaq on Thursday, though they later erased gains and were trading at around $585 on Friday afternoon.

In New York, the queues were nothing compared 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.

The new iPad - Apple has refrained from calling it iPad 3 - has faster chips, fourth-generation wireless, a sharper display and a better camera, making it harder for competitors like Samsung's Galaxy, which also lack Apple's range of apps and content, to catch up.

On price, too, Apple's rivals will struggle to beat it. 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 will continue to sell the iPad 2 but has dropped its price by $100 to start at $399. Some analysts expect sales of the new iPad to overtake the old. So far, the company has sold 55 million tablets since the first iPad was launched in 2010.   Continued...

A customer checks his new iPad after purchasing it at a department store in Manhattan, New York, shortly after the 4G-ready tablet computer went on sale at midnight March 16, 2012. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz