Turnout low for iPad launches at Beijing Apple store

Apple launched its iPad mini and fourth-generation iPad in China on Friday

Apple on Friday launched its iPad mini and fourth generation iPad in the Chinese market. But at the company's newest store in Beijing, early turnout for the device was nearly nonexistent, with not even a line forming outside the building.

Apple's store in Beijing's Wangfujing district opened its doors at 9 a.m. to customers who had made a reservation. But in the following hour, only about four customers entered the store.

The company's product launches in China have previously brought out droves of people willing to wait in line to buy them. In a few instances, there were skirmishes among impatient buyers. To avoid this and make buying the devices easier, Apple in July switched to a reservation system for the launch of its third generation iPad.

Customers in China now waiting to buy the company's newest devices at an Apple store must first place an order online.

But not all customers were aware of the reservation system. A 43-year-old, with the surname Yin, came to the Wangfujing Apple store, wanting to buy an iPad.

"I guess I'll have to buy an old one," he said, after finding out he needed to make a reservation. "I want to buy one because I think the whole family can use it, and my kid wants to play with it."

An 18-year-old, who didn't wish to disclose his name, also came to the store hoping to buy a new iPad, but failed to make a reservation online.

"I wasn't able to reserve one," he said. "I want an iPad 4. I think its very good."

Despite the early low turnout at the Wangfujing store, Apple's new iPads will sell well in China, said Li Yanyan, an analyst with Beijing-based research firm Analysys International.

Apple has consistently dominated China's tablet market, and in the third quarter had a 71 percent share. Competition in the market is also lower, with Amazon's Kindle Fire, and Google's Nexus 7 tablets having yet to officially arrive in the country, Li said.

"Among higher-end tablets, there are few choices, and so many people will pick the iPad," she said.

30-year-old Terry Zhang visited the Apple store and played with an iPad mini device. While he did not make a reservation, Zhang said he planned to buy one.

"I came here to see what it was like. I haven't been able to see the real thing until now," he said. "I want to buy it. It seems very convenient to have."

Others said they've already managed to buy Apple's iPad mini. Guo Shijie came to the store wanting to purchase a cover for his iPad mini, which he obtained from Hong Kong, where sales of the devices began in November.

"I think the iPhone 5 will get a better turnout," he said. "A lot of people already have an iPad or an iPhone, so they probably don't really need an iPad mini."

Apple's iPhone 5 goes on sale in China next week on Dec. 14.

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Michael Kan

IDG News Service
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