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iPad launch: Apple Stores packed, PC World and Currys not so much

Happy iPad day, non-pre-ordering iPad fans! The Apple flagship store on Regents Street opened its doors at 8am this morning and we were there to catch the action.

At 7.45am, the queue of iPad hopefuls snaked around the corner – some of these poor souls have been queueing since 5.30am and aren’t even on the same road as the shop yet. The queue continued to grow, although one man told us, “If it doesn’t move in 10 minutes, I’m leaving.” Fair enough.

Regents Street became a scrum as the doors opened – press, stewards, Apple store employees, bemused passers-by, genuine customers and PR-chancers all pushed together in an unholy stew of consumerism. An unsociably tall couple turned up in full wedding garb to buy their iPad, which is not how we’d spend our wedding days but hey, different strokes.

Everyone’s favourite Apple fanboy was there to celebrate the launch of the iPad – of course Stephen Fry already has an iPad but he was there to nab a 3G version to complete the set. As well as to peddle his own just-launched iPad app, of course.

Meet Ian – he was the first iPad customer to exit the Apple store and thus subjected to the media scrum. While he doesn’t look too thrilled in these photos, he had been queueing since last night to be among the first to buy an iPad instore so we hope he’ll be a little more cheerful once he gets his new toy back to the safety of his own home.

We must admit that he wasn’t a natural in front of the camera. Still, five seconds of fame is always nice.

Another happy iPad customer makes his way down the transparent stairs, to the whoops and cheers of Apple employees whose wages are safely paid for another day.

Meanwhile, tumbleweed drifted past Currys on Oxford Street.

The queue of six keen customers dwindled to just two while we were enjoying Currys’ hospitality. When asked how long he’d been queueing for his iPad, one customer told us, “Oh, about ten minutes. I’ve just popped in on my way to work.”

A similar story was to be told at PC World on Tottenham Court Road, where there were more staff on hand than customers to serve. The manager assured us they’d had a queue that morning though, but nothing compared to the great Windows 7 launch of 2009 when they had around 300 people waiting outside the doors.

PC World Tottenham Court Road’s stock is running out fast, but they anticipate having enough iPads to see them through today – so if you can’t get hold of one direct from Apple, its definitely worth giving PC World a try.


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