A number of Australians visited the US over the weekend to pick up early copies of Apple's new iPad tablet device weeks before it goes on sale in Australia later this month, with one particularly enthusiastic pair picking up 19 iPads for themselves and mates.
The device went on sale in the US on 3 April, but is not scheduled to hit Australian shores until "late April", according to Apple. It bridges the gap between mobile phones and laptops, including a large touch-screen and the ability to read eBooks, for example.
But the late April Australian release was too far away for some.
"We aimed for 24 iPads, but were only able to get 19 — which is still impressive considering Apple were limiting sales to two per person," Anthony Agius, the founder of local Apple site MacTalk, wrote on the site yesterday.
The enthusiast wrote that he had flown to the US with Peter Wells, who runs the Australian Fulltime Casual podcast. More information on their journey is available online at their Twitter pages and at MacTalk. The pair took orders from friends for the iPads as well as buying one for themselves.
"No food. No sleep. Four Manhattan Apple Stores. 17 iPads and counting," wrote Wells on Twitter on 4 April.
Other Australians to attend the iPad launch include APC online editor Dan Warne, who experienced some critical banking problems with the National Australia Bank as he was buying his iPad, but eventually overcame them.
Damian Damjanovski, digital strategist at local marketing agency BMF also attended.
And Wells and Agius were not the only Australians to buy more than one iPad during their US trip: "Got another two, total of six glorious iPads!" wrote Alexandra Peters on Twitter. "It's impossible to hold one of these and not want it." Peters is a public relations spokesperson for Australian development house Firemint, which produced the popular Flight Control game for the iPhone.
The high levels of Australian interest in the iPad come as very few details have yet been made available about the device's launch in Australia, beyond Apple's statement that it will launch locally in "late April".
Optus chief executive Paul O'Sullivan has said the company was very interested in the device, which he described as "terrific", but like other telcos, Optus has not yet said how or for how much the device will be sold locally. Some versions of the iPad come with 3G mobile connectivity in-built that necessitates a mobile connection.
However, hopes that Apple will launch its eBookstore feature in Australia have recently been boosted with the news that the company has advertised for an executive to manage its iBooks product for the Asia-Pacific and Canada regions, with the position to be based in Sydney or Toronto.
Note: Time differences between the US and Australia made direct comment on this issue tricky, but we hope to follow up with interviews with some of the enthusiastic early adopters later today — stay tuned.
Image credit: Apple