TOKYO --- Apple today launched its third-generation iPad in Japan. Not long after a series of incidents marring the iPhone 4S' launch in China, its neighbour received a smooth welcome from queuing customers.
Lines had been forming overnight with eager campers outside of Tokyo' Shibuya and Ginza stores. According to Apple store staff, some customers had even been waiting for two nights just to get in first.
Was it worth the wait?
Well, they needn't have worried. Although tumultuous launches of the iPhone 4S in Hong Kong and mainland China might have set people on edge over potentially uncontrollable crowds and scalpers, such concerns were virtually invisible in Tokyo.
A small handful of security guards waited outside, but they were mostly enjoying the sunshine rather than worrying about crowd control.
Within an hour of opening the doors, the queues were already dissipated, with more than 400 customers already served by 9.30 am.
Previous launch disasters have warned Apple to make sure they are well equipped for dealing with heavy numbers. Ginza, the first international Apple retail store, had four floors and a streamlined system in place to make sure that customers were served and out of the door in time for work.
To take the pressure off staff, the queuing customers had been issued cards specifying exactly which product, model, and contract they required.
It was a simple way to quickly cart customers to the right place, but also to keep an eye on stock and avoid any embarrassing problems. I'm not sure if this practice will happen in other locations such as the U.S., and more importantly China, but the Japanese are nothing if not patient and orderly.