The iPad has arrived, but retailers are reporting that sales have not been the runaway success some had predicted. Cost appeared to be the sticking point, with sellers charging more than double the US price of Apple's tablet computer. Some customers said they had instead asked friends or relatives to ship the devices to them directly from the US, where the iPad went on sale on April 3.
At Plug-Ins, an electronics retailer, the iPad starts at Dh3,899 (US$1,061) for the basic 16-gigabyte model, which sells for $499 in the US. The 32-gigabyte unit was selling for Dh4,699 and the 64-gigabyte for Dh5,499, both more than double the US prices of $599 and $699, respectively. Amir Malik, from Pakistan, was shocked to see the prices at the Plug-Ins branch in Abu Dhabi. "It's too much," he said. "I was supposed to buy this as a gift for my brother. I am not sure if it's available in Pakistan."
David Beanland, from Surrey in the UK, said he would wait until later this month, when he returns home for a holiday, to buy the iPad. "There is no justification for this high price," said the manager of an electronics company in Abu Dhabi. "Shipping doesn't cost that much. There is no duty or sales tax here." The buying patterns appeared to indicate that the less price-sensitive customers were the keenest takers, with high-end models selling best.
Plug-Ins in Dubai Festival City sold all 12 of its initial stock of 64-gigabyte iPads by Monday night, only a day after putting them on the shelves. It still had a few 32-gigabyte models available, and plenty of 16-gigabyte units. Tim Swanson, an American architect living in Abu Dhabi and now the proud owner of a 16-gigabyte iPad, reckoned he was the first person in the country to have the computer. "One week ago I got the iPad," he said. "It was shipped by relatives just three days after it was first sold in the US. I am absolutely loving it."
Plug-Ins put 164 iPads on sale on Sunday evening; 104 remained in stock yesterday afternoon. A spokesman for Sharaf DG said only its Deira and Times Square branches had the gadget. Shipments to its other seven branches had been delayed, he said. Some local websites had the device available for lower prices. Julien Pascual, the French owner of Emirates Avenue, a shopping site that launched two months ago, said he had been inundated by would-be iPad owners.
The 30 units he stocked on April 6, including 16-gigabyte models at Dh2690, have all been sold. "We are getting new stock this weekend," he said. "Almost 40 per cent of our website traffic is for the iPad, and it has jumped 250 per cent since we started selling it." Cheaper iPads than those found at retail stores also appear to be available on websites such as eBay and Souq.com. On eBay, a 16-gigabyte model was available for $663, including shipping to the UAE.
Apple will beginning shipping the iPad to Canada, Australia, England and other parts of Europe later this month. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org