Chinese Form Lines Outside Apple Stores for iPad

The iPad is big in Beijing, and a smash in Shanghai. Apple’s hit tablet computer went on sale in China Friday and, just as it did in the U.S., the device packed eager fans outside Apple stores to get their hands on the Wi-Fi version, with the 16-gigabyte model selling for about $593, a bit higher than the $499 basic-model price in the U.S.

The 64-gigabyte version sells for about $826, compared to $699 in the U.S. The 3G cellular-capable version is not yet available.

Customers waited as long as three days, according to one report, and, in Beijing, braved the rain to get an iPad. Apple employees reportedly handed out umbrellas, water and coffee to the crowd.

Also Friday, China Unicom, the country’s second-largest mobile operator, began taking pre-orders for Apple’s iPhone 4, which will sell for a whopping $875, far more than the $200 U.S. cost, with a two-year contract in both cases.

‘Marquis Product’

Apple products have fared well in China, although the Cupertino, Calif.-based company has had to make some changes to adapt to Chinese technology.

“Apple products are very much aspirational, or marquis, products that seem to be doing well in China,” said Michael Gartenberg of the Altimeter Group. “The iPhone did very well there, so I think we’re going to see a success for Apple in that space.”

Apple recently opened its second Chinese store, in Shanghai, with 25 more due in China in the near future.

Apple’s COO Tim Cook said in an earnings call with analysts last April that revenue in China increased in Apple’s second quarter by 200 percent from last year.

Year of the Apple

“If you look at greater China, which we define as mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, the iPhone units were up year over year over nine times,” Cook was reported as saying. “We added…

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