Japan's new iPad launch outnumbered by clothes store opening

Apple's store in Ginza had a successful iPad launch on Friday, with an initial crowd of 400. However they might have been overshadowed by the opening of a new UNIQLO, which drew around 1,000 waiting customers.

Reports suggest that on Friday more Japanese consumers in Ginza lined up to buy clothes than the recently released new iPad.

Having personally attended the launch of the new iPad in Ginza on Friday, I was impressed by how quickly the crowds had been cleared. I would not describe the launch as being particularly overwhelming, and the system the store had in place seemed to be work efficiently.

There was, however, another factor that could have contributed to an easy launch.

According to ITMedia, there was a crowd of a thousand people in Ginza on Friday, but it was for the opening of a new branch of UNIQLO.

The initial crowd outside the iPad launch was around 450 people. Taking into account that of the seven Apple stores in Japan, there are only two in Tokyo, that number seems reasonable.

It does not factor in the size of crowds at the Shibuya branch, another popular shopping district, or crowds at other sellers such as Bic Camera.

UNIQLO is one of Japan's most successful global brands, with stores located in New York, Paris, and London. The Ginza opening, however, promised to be the world's largest flagship store.

For many Japanese consumers, UNIQLO represents affordable high street fashion in a district full of Gucci, Chanel, and Prada.

Standing at 12 floors, the new store had more than three times the capacity of Apple's Ginza store, but customers were apparently spilling out on to the street. On UNIQLO's website the "check-in" counter for the Ginza store has hit 10,500, and is still rising.

Competitions and other enticements might have contributed to the large crowds, but the result still looks unfortunate for Apple.

This is not to suggest the launch of the new iPad was a failure in Japan. I would add that the crowds outside Apple's Shibuya store were significant. Equally, UNIQLO opened its doors two hours after Apple, which may have contributed to crowd build-up.

Whilst the Ginza branch is considered to be the major Apple store in Tokyo, Shibuya is a very busy commercial district alongside a big commuter station, and did not have any competing store openings on the scale of UNIQLO.

If anything, this was a case of unfortunate timing for the Ginza branch, but it was unavoidable. As the first international store, it couldn't miss out on the launch of iPad's third generation.

According to a recent press release, so far, Apple has sold over 3 million units worldwide.

Image source: Murumachisimo/Flickr.