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Long lines in Europe, Asia as Apple releases iPad overseas

LONDON - Technophiles mobbed Apple Stores in Europe and Asia on Friday in a quest to snatch up the hottest gadget of the moment: the iPad.

Long lines snaked down streets in London, Paris, Frankfurt and Tokyo as eager buyers vied to wield their credit cards. Screams and cheers rose from the crowd in central London as students, professionals and self-proclaimed computer geeks clutched boxes containing the slim black device.

"If I was a music fan, it would be like the launch of a Lady Gaga album in the U.S.," said actor-comedian Stephen Fry, known in Britain as a champion Tweeter.

Apple Inc., based in Cupertino, Calif., said earlier this month that it had sold 1 million of the devices in the United States in just 28 days. The company started taking orders for the iPad abroad on May 10 after pushing back its international delivery target amid extreme demand at home.

The computer looks like a larger version of Apple's iPhone and can be used to send e-mails, draw pictures and play games. It is also seen as a potential savior of the struggling newspaper industry, because it can be used as an electronic reader.

Publishers have seized upon the device as an opportunity to finally make large numbers of readers pay for online content.

In hopes of better times, Britain's Financial Times newspaper launched its iPad version at a swank press event at a hotel overlooking Lake Geneva in Switzerland, claiming the app has already been downloaded over 100,000 times in the United States. Rob Grimshaw, managing director of, said 20 percent of new digital subscriptions to the paper came from iPad users last week.

Besides Britain, the device was being unveiled Friday in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain and Switzerland.

At the Apple Store in Frankfurt, Germany, hundreds lined up - including a few who arrived as early as 3 a.m. Some said they'd arrived so early not because they wanted to own it first - but simply to get an iPad at all. - AP

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