WSJ: After strong initial demand, some lines for Apple iPad 'thin'

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While Apple stores had long lines at 9 a.m. to buy the iPad and a number of locations sold out in a matter of minutes, other stores outside of Apple's "typical tech urban strongholds" saw crowds dissipate relatively quickly.

Profiling the iPad launch on Saturday, The Wall Street Journal noted that hundreds of fans gathered around the Apple flagship store on 5th Avenue in New York City. But the excitement was reportedly short-lived at a Best Buy in North Carolina.

"Traffic was thin by about 10:30 a.m. at the Apple desk of a suburban Charlotte, N.C., outlet of Best Buy Inc., the other major retailer stocking the device," the report said. "Store manager Andrew Rochelle said three people were waiting in line when he got to the store at 7 a.m. and by opening time at 10 a.m., the store had handed out about half of its 60 right-to-buy tickets."

The Journal also said the scene was "muted" at the Apple store in Northpark Mall in Dallas, Tex.

"While some who showed up early had to wait several hours to get into the store, by 10:15 there was no one standing in line and workers were putting away the metal poles that had kept earlier crowds in order," the report said.

The newspaper suggested that crowds were "tempered" by the fact that Apple offered online preorders starting March 12, and the hardware was shipped directly to consumers for free on launch date. It also speculated that some could be waiting for the 3G-capable iPad, due to be released later this month.

Separately, AppleInsider received reports of stores selling out quickly after opening, and limited supply in certain locations. One Best Buy in San Francisco had very small quantities of iPads for Saturday's launch.

Calculations for preorders for the iPad have suggested Apple sold 120,000 on the first day alone. Analyst Gene Munster with Piper Jaffray has forecast that Apple will sell out of its initial supply on launch weekend, which he has predicted will be between 200,000 and 300,000.