Hundreds stay up late to grab Apple’s new offerings

By Helen Ku  /  Staff reporter

Sat, Dec 15, 2012 - Page 13

Apple Inc’s much-anticipated new iPhone 5 smartphone, and iPad 4 and iPad Mini tablets, hit Taiwan yesterday, with hundreds of people jamming its stores in Taipei’s Neihu (內湖) and Xinyi (信義) districts, other retail outlets and at the nation’s top three telecoms carriers.

Retailer Tsann Kuen Enterprise Co (燦坤實業) was a step ahead of the competition, though, with its Neihu flagship store commencing sales of the iPad 4 and the iPad Mini at midnight yesterday, while more than 300 people lined up outside.

“I never thought that I would be the first, but I’m very happy that this white 64-gigabyte iPad Mini is now in my hands,” Arthur Chen (陳樹森), 50, said after waiting outside the store since 9:30pm on Thursday.

Chen said he was planning to give the 7.9-inch tablet to his 78-year-old mother as a Christmas gift to read news or watch movies.

Chang Yueh-lung (張岳龍), vice president of Tsann Kuen’s merchandise department, said the store had enough stock to meet customer demand.

He forecast that the sales momentum would last through the Lunar New Year holidays in February as companies might pick Apple’s new products as gifts for employees at year-end banquets.

Following Tsann Kuen, Studio A Electronic Corp’s (晶實科技) and Data Express Infotech Co’s (德誼數位科技) flagship stores next to Vieshow Cinemas (威秀影城) in Xinyi District, as well as the top three telecoms carriers — Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信), Taiwan Mobile Co (台灣大哥大) and Far EasTone Telecommunications Co (遠傳電信) — all advanced store opening hours to 8am yesterday.

At about 1am yesterday, more than 100 people had lined up outside Chunghwa’s store hoping they could win a free iPhone 5.

Luke Lu (盧棋), the first in line, said he had been waiting outside the store since 5am on Thursday.

“It’s worth sitting here [waiting] for so long so I can replace my phone with the newest iPhone,” Lu said, after purchasing the phone at 8am.

His long wait was also rewarded with Chunghwa giving him another iPhone 5 for free.

Lin Kuo-feng (林國豐), president of Chunghwa’s mobile business group, said the company had sold more than 1 million iPhones since 2008 and expected the number to grow to 1.5 million with the addition of the iPhone 5.

The carrier has received nearly 300,000 pre-orders for the iPhone 5 — higher than the 210,000 it received for the iPhone 4S last year and the 100,000 units for the iPhone 4 in 2010, Lin said.

To boost sales and meet customers’ expectations, Chunghwa has opened 55 new stores this year and increased its total number of outlets selling the iPhone 5 to 350 nationwide, Lin said.

By the end of the year, the carrier expects sales of the iPhone 5 to hit 100,000 units, he added.

Far EasTone, meanwhile, offered discounts of up to NT$10,000 for buyers replacing their old iPhone with the new iPhone 5.

Far EasTone president Yvonne Li (李彬) said the company had received more than 150,000 pre-orders for the iPhone 5, double that for the iPhone 4S.

Li said the company expects to deliver about 80,000 to 100,000 iPhone 5s by the end of the year and forecasts that demand for Apple tablets would continue to grow next year.

Both Studio A and Data Express said overall demand for the iPad Mini was stronger than that for the iPad 4, mainly because of the novelty factor.

Data Express said its iPad Mini inventory was exhausted by 12pm yesterday and that it would ask Apple to ship more iPad Minis to Taiwan as soon as possible.

“There is a shortage of iPad Minis across the globe because of stronger-than-expected demand, and we are talking to Apple about getting more supplies,” Data Express general manager Grace Chu (朱慧蓮) said at a news conference, adding that she expects the new supplies to arrive after Christmas.

Currently, Apple stores only offer Wi-Fi versions of the iPad Mini and iPad 4.

In Taiwan, the iPad Mini is priced at NT$10,500 for the 16GB version, NT$13,500 for 32GB and NT$16,500 for 64GB, while the iPad 4 is priced at NT$15,900 for 16GB, NT$18,800 for 32GB and NT$21,900 for 64GB.

As for the iPhone 5, Apple posted on its Web site earlier this month that the 16GB version would retail for NT$21,900, 32GB for NT$25,500 and 64GB for NT$28,900.