Hundreds of customers lined up outside Apple stores in Australia and New Zealand on Friday for the international launch of the iPad 2, which has flown off the shelves in the United States leaving the company struggling to meet demand.
Analysts forecast 1 million devices may have been sold in the first weekend of the launch in the US, but many warn that it's not clear how the supply constraints will affect availability following the Japan earthquake and tsunami.
The iPad 2, a thinner and faster version that features two cameras for video chat, was introduced in the US on March 11. But some would-be buyers have expressed frustration at how difficult it has been to secure one of the wildly popular tablet computers, sparking speculation Apple misjudged demand.
It went on sale in New Zealand at 0400 GMT. One store in Wellington was allocated just 12 of the gadgets and they were snapped up in a matter of minutes.
Sales kick off in Australia at 0600 GMT and then roll out to other countries including France, the United Kingdom, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, and Spain.
"If it wasn't for the iPad, I wouldn't be in Australia right now," said Alex Lee, a backpacker from Canada, who was the first in the queue outside the glass-fronted Apple store in Sydney's central business district. Its retail price in Australia starts at $568, against $499 in the US. The iPad 1 started selling in Australia from A$629.0 when it was launched.