Apple released the faster, thinner and ligher version of its iPad on Friday, but the usual long lines and hoopla for the launch of a new device from the consumer-tech giant were absent in the early, post-Halloween morning light.
The scene outside stores in Palo Alto, Calif., was muted, with only a sprinkling of customers awaiting the iPad Air release. About two dozen customers were lined up outside the store on University Avenue just a half-hour before doors opened — a little more than half the crowd that showed up for the iPad Mini launch last year, and fewer than 20 braved the chilly morning temperatures at Stanford Shopping Center.
“I’m the dork who showed up early,” said Kevin Anderson, who arrived at 6 a.m. at the Stanford store to claim first place in line. “I couldn’t wait.”
Anderson, an engineer for Tesla, had been iPad-less for a couple weeks after selling his second-generation device on eBay for a respectable $310. He has been using mostly his iPhone for Internet access.
“We only have one computer at home, and it’s always busy Pinterest-ing by my wife,” Anderson said. “It’s driving me nuts.”
Charles Zhou, a mobile application developer from Sunnyvale, Calif., arrived shortly before the store opened and was still among the first customers to enter.
Like Anderson, Zhou said he had been without an iPad since selling his second-generation device last week on eBay for $280. He bought one of Google’s Nexus tablets to try to hold him over.
“I said, ‘Let’s see if this is enough,’” Zhou said. “And immediately I was like, ‘I miss iPad.’”
Shoppers were in and out of the Stanford store in about five minutes, a few offering only a quick cheer after making their purchase — marking a stark contrast to the pomp and circumstance of Apple’s iPhone launch last month. Other customers popped in for a smartphone repair or to browse, seemingly unaware of the release event.
One customer ran up to the store about a half-hour after it opened and asked an Apple employee: “Hey, where are all the people?”
The lines may have been even shorter if Apple had allowed customers to pre-order the devices, as it did with last month’s iPhone launch and previous iPad debuts.
Software engineer Erasmo Acosta drove to Stanford from Fremont, Calif., early Friday to nab an iPad Air, but said he doesn’t normally go to launch events and doesn’t particularly like them.
“But since (Apple) eliminated the presale, we’re out here in the cold,” he said. “I don’t enjoy it.”
Still, Acosta was excited to replace his year-old, fourth-generation iPad for the new iPad Air. “It’s faster, better and the whole experience is better,” he said.
In-store sales of the iPad Air began in Australia and are headed to more than 40 other countries, marking the biggest launch yet for one of Apple’s tablets. Lines were long at some stores across the globe, with reports of many hours-long waits in some countries. The Apple store in Hong Kong sold out online before the device went on sale in stores, according to news reports. But U.S. launches were much more subdued from New York to Palo Alto.
The iPad Air is Apple’s fifth version of a full-sized tablet since the device was introduced in 2010. The 9.7-inch iPad Air is another Apple design marvel, weighing in at just 1 pound, the lightest full-sized tablet in the world, according to the company. Other full-sized iPads weigh 1.4 pounds.