Crowds Wait to be First in Country to Buy iPad
Credit: Apple
Credit: Apple

NEW YORK CITY – Hundreds of people descended on New York’s flagship Apple store here on Fifth Avenue early Saturday morning, eager to get their hands on the brand new iPad tablet computer.

Excited shoppers waited in line in the crisp morning temperature for the store to open at 9 a.m. The mixed crowd, made up of mostly young men and women, demonstrated the diversity and loyalty behind the Apple brand.

The iPad, a tablet computer that is being marketed as an alternative to the traditional laptop, is the newest gadget in Apple’s product line-up. The iPad’s launch Saturday morning at New York’s Fifth Avenue Apple store drew customers from far and wide. (Read more iPad news.)

In Las Vegas, more than 100 people were in line at the Apple store early Saturday.

Long-distance travel

Holding his position near the front of the line, Florian Brunbauer, 17, fiddled with his Macbook Pro laptop to pass the time. Brunbauer, who is originally from Austria, traveled to New York exclusively for the iPad launch from California, where he is participating in an exchange program.

“I’m just here for the weekend,” Brunbauer said. “I thought about going to the nearest Apple store in Reno, but I figured that the New York flagship is the main spot. Plus, I can get it three hours earlier here.”

Brunbauer, a high school student, designs and sells apps through the App Store in his spare time. In addition to nine iPhone apps, he has already designed two new apps for the iPad, one of which (a task management application called iDo Cloud) is already available online for purchase.

Brunbauer, who was decked out in an Apple hat and zip-up, is excited to purchase the iPad so that he can expand and improve his designs.

“It’s a great alternative to laptops because it makes it easy to create and consume content,” he said. “As a developer, it gives you a lot of new interface options. You can provide more information to users in a more organized way.”

A marketing play

Brunbauer isn’t the only one hoping to capitalize off of the success of the iPad. Not far ahead of him in line was Andras Horvath, who runs an Apple retail store in his native Hungary.

Horvath secured his third place in line by arriving at the store at 5 p.m. on Friday evening. He is hoping to purchase two iPads Saturday to bring home to Budapest, where he owns the largest Apple store in the country.

“We won’t get the iPad in Hungary until July or August – maybe not even until Christmas, nobody really knows,” Horvath said. “So, getting an iPad here is big marketing for me.”

Horvath and Brunbauer met while waiting in line, and passed the night hours talking about everything from politics in their home countries to their mutual love of Apple and the iPad. Both believe that the iPad’s impact on society has the potential to be revolutionary.

“It’s an amazing device because of the software and the apps,” Horvath said. “It’s very intuitive, and will be easy for people to use. It has a big screen so you can read and e-mail. You can do almost anything with it.”

Waiting with a baby

Further back in line, 33-year-old Hugo Yanotti of New York waited patiently with his pregnant wife. A self-professed Apple fan, Yanotti already owns an iPod Touch, Nano and Macbook Air. What attracted him most to the iPad was its ability to function as an entertainment device.

“I already subscribe to Netflix, so being able to watch it on the iPad will be huge,” Yanotti said. “I also loved the touchscreen on the [iPod Touch] so it will be great to have that in a bigger size.”

Yanotti said he will also value the experience of having been at the iPad’s launch, particularly in light of his wife’s pregnancy.

“We’ll get to remember the fact that we were here. The baby is waiting in line for this too,” Yanotti added with a smile. “Maybe by the time he’s born, we’ll be at the front of this line.”