Apple Inc's iPad made its overseas debut on Friday, with buyers storming Japanese and Australian shops to be among the first outside the United States to snap up the long-awaited tablet PC.
The device, which has a 9.7-inch color touchscreen for surfing the Web, watching movies, playing games and reading e-books, also goes on sale in Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, the UK and Canada later on Friday.
At Apple's flagship store in Tokyo's Ginza shopping district, about 1,200 people lined up before the store opened at 8 a.m.
I wanted to touch it as soon as possible. I felt a true excitement when it was finally in my hands, said Takechiyo Yamanaka, a 19-year-old who camped out in front of the Ginza store from Wednesday evening to be the first in line.
Apple has sold a million iPads in the U.S. since its April 3 debut, exceeding even the most bullish pre-launch estimates. Demand was so heavy the company had to delay the international roll-out by a month.
Enthusiasm for the iPad in Japan, the world's second-largest economy, is good news for Apple as international sales are increasingly important for the maker of the Macintosh computer and iPhone.
An iPad model with 16 gigabytes of memory and WiFi-capability is selling for 48,800 yen ($537) in Japan, compared with $499 in the U.S.
Apple gets almost three-fifths of its revenue from overseas now, and is seeing stunning growth in Europe and Asia.
On Wednesday, Apple shot past Microsoft Corp as the world's biggest technology company based on market value, the latest milestone in the resurgence of the maker of the iPhone, which nearly went out of business in the 1990s.
Analysts said the iPad was sure to match the success seen in the U.S. in overseas markets, helped by a large base of Apple fans who already own the iPod or iPhone.
RBC Capital Markets estimates iPad's total shipments will reach 8.13 million units worldwide by the end of this year. Apple does not provide iPad sales forecasts.
But analysts also warned Apple may struggle to supply enough of the device and noted competition from faces a spate of competitors set to significantly expand the number of rival offerings in the tablet market this year.
It's a little bit hard to say because there's still going to be supply constraint, but I'm expecting them to sell every single thing they can ship, Andy Hargreaves, a U.S.-based analyst at Pacific Crest Securities, said ahead of the overseas launch.
On Tuesday, Dell unveiled its Streak tablet computer that can double as a mobile phone and will have a front-facing camera for videoconferencing. Sony Corp said on Thursday it would launch an e-reader in Japan by year-end.
Application providers and telecoms firms in Japan are closely watching the arrival of iPad for business opportunities.
In Japan, where 476,000 iPads are expected to be shipped this year, according to RBC, Apple suspended taking pre-orders of the device after only three days due to a supply shortage.
Dentsu Inc, Japan's top advertising firm, which operates an online book store to distribute magazines such as Newsweek Japan to smart phones including the iPhone, plans to distribute content to the iPad.
NTT Docomo, Japan's biggest mobile phone operator, will sell wireless LAN routers for the iPad's Wi-Fi connection next month to rival No.3 operator Softbank, which exclusively provides 3G networks for iPad.
(Additional reporting Alexei Oreskovic and Edwin Chan; Editing by Anshuman Daga)