updated 12:05 pm EDT, Fri September 17, 2010
Clones, gray market likely making an impact
(Updated with Shanghai response) Today's official Chinese launch of the iPad has generated only mild interest, Fortune observes. Although a number of reporters are said to have gathered at the Beijing Apple Store this morning, only about 100 customers lined up. "Plenty" of Wi-Fi-only iPads are claimed to have been in stock; the 3G model is not yet being sold by Apple in China.
The first official iPad buyer in Beijing was Han Ziwen, who picked up two tablets after camping in front of the Apple outlet for over two days. Distinguishing him from the crowd was a blue t-shirt, the words "I BUY IPAD NO 1" printed in front. At least some of the people in the crowd were picking up iPads for friends.
The low turnout is thought be attributable to cheap clones and the gray market, since imported iPads have been available for several months, including 3G models. A 64GB 3G iPad costs about $1,000 from one vendor interviewed for the Wall Street Journal. At the same time, some Chinese say they are willing to buy direct from Apple, since doing so means they can get official support.
Update: Photos are showing a more enthusiastic response at Apple's Shanghai store, with lines wrapping around the store's cylindrical glass entrance.