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China's Low-Key Welcome For Apple's New iPad

(c) Sky News 2012

The latest iPad has launched in China with none of the chaotic scenes that surrounded previous product debuts in Apple (NasdaqGS: AAPL - news) 's most promising growth market.

The orderly queues in Shanghai and Beijing came as a surprise to many Apple fans, who are used to standing in long queues overnight to get their hands on the latest product.

"I'm very surprised that there is no queue. I thought there was going be a long queue so I came over a bit earlier to pick it up," said IT worker, Sun Xufei who was first in a group of around 20 people waiting outside the Shanghai Lujiazui Apple store.

The launch of the latest iPad, which features a sharper display and better camera than previous versions of the globally popular tablet, comes weeks after Apple paid £38m ($60m) to a Shenzhen-based company to settle a trademark lawsuit over the iPad name.

For the latest launch, Apple used an online reservation system that allowed it to control the flow of people to its stores and avoid a repeat of the iPhone 4S launch in January.

On that occasion staff at one of its flagship stores in Beijing were pelted with eggs by frustrated shoppers.

"My friend came here last year and queued for the whole day. So I think the process now is much more convenient," said Wang Yue, 26, outside the Lujiazui store.

Apple has two retail stores in Beijing, three in Shanghai, one in Hong Kong and a network of authorised resellers.

Chinese government officials said the company wants to open two more in the major cities of Chengdu and Shenzhen.

Demand for Apple products is so high that many choose to buy from unauthorised resellers who peddle smuggled goods or from online stores that sell parallel imports.

An avid Apple fan can easily buy one as they are readily available in electronics malls across China.

China is a key growth area for Apple, and chief executive Tim Cook has often said that the company has only scratched the surface in the region.

Sales in greater China - mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan - increased threefold to £5bn ($7.9bn) in the second quarter that ended on March 31.

Meanwhile, China's population of internet users, already the world's biggest, has risen to 538 million, driven by rapid growth in wireless web surfing, an industry group says.

The latest figure represents an 11% increase from a year earlier, according to the report by the China Internet Network Information Centre.

The government-sanctioned group said this means that the share of China's population that uses the internet has risen to 39.9%.

The number of people who go online from mobile phones and other wireless devices rose to 388 million, the group said. That was up 22% from a year earlier.