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Thousands of Apple fans celebrated "iPad Day" across the nation Saturday as the iconic technology company began selling its new tablet computer at Apple Stores in U.S. cities.
Hundreds gathered in front of Apple's Palo Alto, Calif. retail outlet, counting down the seconds to the opening of the Apple Store's front doors at 9 a.m. PST. Apple employees received last-minute instructions from team leaders inside the store about 30 minutes before opening, then began cheering along with the crowd outside as the zero hour approached.
Technology author and blogger Robert Scoble said he had been camped out in front of the store since 11 a.m. PST on Friday and was rewarded with the thrill of being the first through the doors.
Scoble, emerging from the Apple Store with two brand new iPads a few minutes later, held the slim packages over his head and let out a triumphant yell. The product was new but the exultation had a familiar feel to it -- Scoble was similarly positioned to celebrate the official release of Apple's iPhone several years ago.
"It's going to be about a week before I really have a good sense of how this is going to change my life. But I'm going to use it at home on the couch," Scoble said outside the Apple Store.
"I'm going to use it to play casual games, control my music system, play videos through Netflix and other systems, and then read and interact with my news systems, like Facebook, my Twitter, my LinkedIn, Google Buzz. And talk with all my friends around the world."
The iPad, which sports a multi-touch, iPhone-like user interface on a larger, 9.7-inch screen, could be a "game-changer" for Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple, predicted Scoble. The first category of devices he sees feeling the heat from the iPad are e-book readers, like Amazon's Kindle.
"I already gave away my Kindle," he said.
Research firm iSuppli recently predicted that Apple would ship more than 7 million iPads in 2010.