In the second stage of a two-part rollout, Apple Inc on Friday began selling the pricier, high-speed wireless version of the iPad in the United States, following the successful launch of the short-range Wi-Fi tablet earlier this month. Although the event certainly lacked the buildup and excitement of the April 3 debut — with the heartiest waiting in line overnight — some Apple retail stores in big cities still saw decent-sized crowds ahead of the 5 p.m. launch.
At a store in downtown San Francisco, roughly 75 people stood in line 90 minutes before the 3G iPad went on sale. Several people said they had waited for the more expensive version of Apple's tablet because they saw it as a potential replacement for their laptops, at least in certain situations. “I'm going to take it everywhere with me, I already take my laptop everywhere, and it'll definitely replace my laptop in a lot of cases,” said Long Nguyen, 22, who works in IT repair and was first in line. The 3G model — which is also Wi-Fi compatible — starts at $629 and tops out at $829. The Wi-Fi-only iPad starts at $499.
AT&T is providing the wireless data plans for the iPad, charging $29.99 a month for unlimited access. AT&T is also the exclusive U.S. carrier for Apple's iPhone, and has been subject to plenty of criticism over the quality of its network.