As of this weekend, buyers will have to wait two or three weeks to get their hands on the tablet — or brave the crowds at Apple stores. The lines for Apple launches are historically jam-packed. Because the company is rolling out the devices in Europe and Asia at the same time as the North American launch, the new iPad launch is on track to be one of Apple’s largest-ever device debuts. Apple, which has sold about 55 million iPad devices to date, is expected to sell at least that many by the end of 2012.
So it’s probably no surprise that Slashgear reports that they’ve already come across two people who’ve been camping out at London’s Regent Street store. According to the report, the two men — Ali and Zohaib — started the iPad line at the store on Saturday, packing folding chairs and warm clothes.
The new iPad, which adds a sharper display, faster processor, access to 4G LTE networks, a better camera and voice dictation to the tablet, will be in stores on Friday, March 16. The WiFi version starts at $499, and the 4G version starts at $629, not including the data plan.
Weighing whether to buy an iPad or one of its Android- or Windows-based competitors? Hayley Tsukayama explains how they compare to one another:
Apple added better cameras, 4G LTE and made a couple of significant internal upgrades to the tablet, all with the aim of making it a better machine for content creation.
It also takes on a wave of competitors who banked on offering one or more of those features in order to get a niche of customers that prized one or more of those features enough to look off the beaten path at iPad alternatives. Adding 4G? That’s a punch in the eye for tablets like the HTC Jetstream, T-Mobile Springboard or Galaxy Tab 10.1, which have been able to argue their network speeds as a selling point against the iPad 2.
Apple even took a step to take on its low-priced rival, the Kindle Fire, by dropping the price of the iPad 2 by $100 to a $399 price point. That’s definitely still expensive, but it may be enough to sway people who were considering the $199 Kindle Fire but want a fuller tablet. With a cheaper iPad, Apple’s main competitor for the new iPad is probably itself.
The iPad still has its vulnerabilities, though. Samsung is still arguing that its new Galaxy Note 10.1, with its S-Pen stylus beats any version of the iPad in the content creation game. And Apple still hasn’t added—and isn’t likely to— say, an SD card slot or HDMI port, choosing instead to challenge tablets with more ports (Toshiba Thrive, Acer Iconia) or expandable memory (most Android-based tablets) with iCloud storage and streaming through Apple TV. And the company still hasn’t introduced a smaller tablet at a time when the 7-inch form factor seems to be catching on with tablet consumers.