MASSIVE queues formed outside Apple's flagship store today as hundreds vied to get their hands on the latest must-have gadget – the iPad.
The queues of technophiles snaked down Regent Street in central London from yesterday afternoon for the touch-screen tablet-style computer.
Jake Lee, 17, from Theydon Bois, Essex, pictured above, was first in the queue, having arrived at midday yesterday with three friends.
Running into the store at 8am following a countdown, he said: "I'm so excited. Let's just hope my card works."
As he came out with the gadget, he said: "It's everything I hoped for and I can't wait to get going on it.
"It feels just amazing. I can't explain it – ridiculously amazing. I want a go on it now."
Celebrity tweeter Stephen Fry was also among the first into the store today.
He said: "Just to see this is fantastic. It is a phenomenal event. There's never been anything like it.
"To say I was here is rather a nice feeling. If I was a music fan, it would be like the launch of a Lady GaGa album in the US record store – it's a momentous occasion."
Apple's iPad finally went on sale in the UK after a delay due to the gadget's popularity in the United States.
The computer allows users to send emails, read novels, draw pictures and play games.
It is on sale from 429 for the basic version to 699 for a model with wi-fi and 3G network access.
Apple stores across the UK opened an hour earlier at 8am to sell the iPad. Currys and PC World will also stock the device at 139 stores.
Deafening screams and cheers could be heard coming from the store as the first few customers left clutching their prized new possessions – some smiling broadly, others appearing somewhat bewildered by the applause.
A team of security staff monitored queues outside as people waited behind a cordon to be allowed into the packed store.
Some weary-looking fans, who had been camping out on Regent Street since the early hours, appeared grateful as they were served refreshments and gradually inched closer to the store.
Though spirits ran high this morning, the launch has been overshadowed by 11 suspected employee suicides at the Chinese factory which makes the iPad amid reports of oppressive conditions.
Apple said it would independently investigate the deaths at Foxconn, which also supplies electronic products for Dell and Hewlett-Packard.
It said in a statement: "We are saddened and upset by the recent suicides at Foxconn. Apple is deeply committed to ensuring that conditions throughout our supply chain are safe and workers are treated with respect and dignity."
Apple was forced to push back its original late April UK launch date because of "overwhelming demand" for the iPad in the US.
The company's website is already warning that iPad pre-orders made now will not ship until June 7.
Apple sold more than one million iPads in the US in the first 100 days after the April launch, making it a faster seller than the iPhone.