By Hayley Tsukayama
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 11, 2011; 9:03 PM
The lure of a slimmer, lighter iPad 2 convinced more than 200 people to stand in line at the Apple store in Georgetown before the device went on sale to get their hands on the tablet on the first day.
Apple employees kept spirits up by serving hot coffee while gently guiding people away from sneaking glances behind the black curtains covering the store windows. By the time the doors opened at 5 p.m., nearly 300 people were waiting in a line that curled around the block.
Austin Wood, a sophomore at the University of Maryland at College Park who said he had been skeptical about the original iPad, was the first in line. Wood got to the store at midnight Thursday, waiting 17 hours to get his hands on the iPad 2.
The second generation of Apple's popular tablet is about one-third slimmer than its predecessor, has a dual-core processor designed to make it twice as fast and adds dual cameras. Starting at $499, the iPad 2 was introduced March 2 by Apple chief executive Steve Jobs. Jobs came out of medical leave to introduce the tablet he says will catapult Apple into a "post-PC era."
Analysts predicted that Apple would sell 600,000 new iPads - available in 16, 32 and 64 GB models - in its first 24 hours, twice the number its predecessor sold in the same period. Apple has sold 15 million of the original iPad to date.
Lines around the country were not as long as for the first iPad or the iPhone, according to Twitter messages. Apple put the tablet on sale through its Web site at 4 a.m. Eastern time. Still, demand was high even though the iPad 2 faces stiffer competition than the original. The tablet market is gearing up for a fight between Apple and Google, whose Android-based products such as the Motorola Xoom have surfaced as possible "iPad killers."
Early reviews say Apple will hold the lead for quite a while.
"I had to Metro in," Wood said. "The earliest I could have gotten here would have been 8 a.m."
He decided to wait overnight instead. He stayed through the night in the rain, planning which apps he would install first. An Apple fan, Wood had previously waited in line for the iPhone 4.
Others standing in line said they were there because they had been paid, or were sent ahead by bosses and spouses. Quite a few decided to wait in line simply because they had the afternoon free. Several said they had held out for the second generation of the iPad either to let Apple work out any bugs or to wait for the addition of cameras.
Daniel Ortiz, a freshman from Philadelphia on spring break, was visiting his sister. He said he decided it would be worth it to stand in line for the iPad, which at just more than a pound, can replace his heavy business textbooks and notebooks.
Gary Haynes, in town on business from Denver, had recently returned the first-generation iPad he had received as a gift in February, opting for the newer model "just because it's new."
Wood stayed in the Apple store for more than a half-hour after buying the iPad, taking advantage of the store's free Internet to install some apps; iBooks and Hulu made the cut. After that?
"I'll probably take a hot shower," he said.