Watched by security guards, a few dozen shoppers waited outside stores in Beijing and Shanghai, which opened on time at 8 a.m. That was in contrast to the chaotic scene outside Apple's main Beijing store in January, when some customers who wanted to buy a new iPhone shouted and threw eggs after managers delayed the opening due to safety concerns about the hundreds of people waiting.
Sun Xufei, a 32-year-old computer technician who was the first customer in line in Shanghai, said he had put off buying an iPad so Apple had time to develop "a perfect one." The 30 customers in line when the store opened were outnumbered by the reporters watching them.
"I am very surprised to see there is nobody here waiting," Sun said.
Apple Inc. cleared a potential legal hurdle to the release when it paid $60 million this month to settle a dispute with a local company, Shenzhen Proview Technology Ltd., over ownership of the iPad name. Apple said it bought global rights to the iPad name from Proview in 2009 but Chinese authorities say the rights in China were never transferred.
China is Apple's second-largest market after the United States and the source of much of the Cupertino, California-based company's sales growth.
Qu Hongyu, a 20-year-old university student in Shanghai, expressed frustration that Apple waited four months after the new iPad debuted abroad to release it in China.
Qu said she could have asked a friend abroad to send her one, "but I think it's better to get the product here, because I don't want to owe somebody a favour."
AP researcher Fu Ting in Shanghai contributed.