Friday, March 16, 2012 | 12:55 p.m.
Map of Forum Shops
3500 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Las Vegas
It’s 7:45 a.m. Friday at the Forum Shops at Caesars. The shopping center is dimly lit and quiet – almost every store is closed.
The lone exception is the Apple Store, where cheering and hollering is coming from employees dressed in matching blue T-shirts and greeting the 75 or so customers who have been waiting patiently in line.
Those in the crowd are waiting for the chance to be among the first to buy the new iPad, Apple’s third installment of its popular electronic tablet. The new iPad goes on sale at 8 a.m.
Some of those in line have their old iPads in hand. Most are scrolling on their iPhone while they wait their turn to enter the store. The first few people in line have been waiting since 4 a.m. The scene Friday morning at the three Apple Stores in Las Vegas was relatively calm compared to reports out of New York, where lines began forming Monday and stretched around blocks.
Once the store at the Forum Shops opened, Las Vegas resident Maria Hernandez waited next to the line with her daughter, Jazzlyn. Inside the store was Maria Hernandez’s husband, who was buying the couple’s second iPad.
In Jazzlyn’s hands is the Hernandezes’ iPad 2. On it, Jazzlyn zips through apps and finds puzzles to solve. Maria Hernandez said Jazzlyn, who is just shy of 2 years old, was why the family was investing in a new iPad.
“We got (the iPad 2) just for us but she started learning how to do it, so she hogs it up all the time,” Maria Hernandez said. “Now we’re going to get the third one for us.”
Bernardo Romo, visiting from Brooklyn, N.Y., also said his child prompted his waiting in line Friday morning.
“I wanted to make sure I got one,” said Romo, who uses an iPhone and is an iPad 2 owner. “My son is going to go stay with his grandma for a week and we wanted to be able to have face time with him, and he loves it.”
The new Apple tablet touts an eye-catching display, a 5-megapixel camera and offers 4G Internet connection, as opposed to Wi-Fi only access on earlier versions of the iPad.
The new iPads are available in black or white, 16, 32 or 64 gigabytes and start at $499. For 4G access, the price increases by $130. The iPad 2 has been reduced to $399.
“Once you’ve used an iPhone 4 and you use the old iPad, it looks quite pixilated by comparison,” said David Williams who is visiting from London. “It’s really worth waiting for this one.”
Williams, who owns a variety of Apple products, said he was not convinced to buy an iPad until the new one was announced.
“Having a iPhone and a Mac Book Air, which is very small and light anyways, the product fits somewhere in between,” Williams said. “I never really felt that I desperately needed (an iPad) but now it’s very compelling with all the features and the new screen.”
While the hype for the new iPad may not be as energized as for previous models and iPhone releases, customers still showed enthusiasm by snapping cell-phone photos of their new buy and high-fiving Apple employees on their way out the store.
At Fashion Show Mall, Chicago native Leroy Fennell said he was leaving the Apple Store happy that he could get his hands on a new iPad so quickly.
“Usually they sell out immediately, but it really wasn’t that bad,” said Fennell. “I wouldn’t have been able to get it (in Chicago.)”
Robert Kemple, AT&T’s Las Vegas area retail sales manager, said Thursday he was expecting a good crowd for the new iPad. AT&T is an authorized Apple retailer.
“A recent survey said half of small-business owners will buy an iPad this year,” said Kemple. “Forty percent already have them.”
Kemple said data plans for the iPad were in demand at AT&T’s 14 retail locations in the valley.
Christina Kwan, founder of Kwan International Marketing firm and an Android user, said she was impressed by the iPad when, on a shuttle bus, a man showed her his entire work presentation before they got to the next stop.
She bought the iPad 2 just one day before the new iPad was announced and returned it immediately to get the latest version.
“I use it for business. In marketing we have to be at the forefront of technology. When we’re doing business we can whip it out and show a presentation within a few seconds,” said Kwan. “Today it’s about getting smaller and more efficient.”