Yu Hong (R), who bought the first iPad 2 from the Apple Store in Beijing's Sanlitun area, shows off her catch outside the store on May 6, 2011. [Photo/China Daily]
BEIJING - After lining up outside for 16 hours, Yu Hong stepped out of an Apple store in Beijing one happy lady on Friday.
"I love the iPad 2!" she shouted.
The 48-year-old was the first to buy Apple's iPad 2 at its Sanlitun store, the company's flagship store in the city.
"I finally have what I've dreamed of having!" she said, surrounded by media.
Around her, more than 800 people were still lined up outside the store as the updated version of the popular tablet computer went on sale in the world's biggest Internet market on Friday.
In the first quarter of this year, revenue from greater China accounted for 10 percent of Apple's total revenue. That number was less than 2 percent a couple of years ago, according to Tim Cook, Apple's chief operating officer.
There are only four stores in the country at present, serving a population of 1.3 billion, compared with 236 Apple stores in the United States.
"Apple's Beijing Apple store has outsold the Fifth Avenue store in Manhattan," Cook said.
During the past few quarters, Apple has accelerated the introduction of its latest products to China. The WiFi-embedded version of the iPad 2 was available in China on Friday, only two months after its release in the US. In the past, Apple products would be released in China up to nine months after hitting the US market.
The 16 gigabyte iPad 2 has a price tag of 3,688 yuan ($568) - 300 yuan cheaper than the first generation iPad in China - while the 64-gigabyte version sells for 5,288 yuan.
"The price reduction and relatively early launch date show that the company has placed more emphasis on the Chinese market this year," said Wang Jiping, research manager at IT research company International Data Corporation (IDC) China.
More than 30 tablet PC makers are competing in the Chinese market, including Lenovo Group and Samsung. But Apple still dominated China's tablet PC market in the first quarter of this year, with market share topping 78 percent, according to figures from domestic research firm Analysys International.
China's biggest computer maker, Lenovo Group, launched its competing product LePad last month and said it will kick off the LePad 2 in the second half of this year. Companies such as Samsung, Hewlett-Packard Corp, Dell Inc, Acer Inc and ASUSTeK Computer Inc will also launch new tablet PCs in China this year.
Wang from IDC said as more companies move their focus to the tablet market, Apple's dominant position may be weakened.
iPad 2 fans wait in front of the Apple Store in the Sanlitun area of Beijing on May 6, 2011. [Photo/China Daily]