iPad 2 now on sale in 25 countries

Apple has announced that the eagerly-awaited iPad 2 will go on sale Friday at 16:00 GMT in 25 countries in Europe, Oceania and the Americas, two weeks after its official launch in the US.

In Paris, some 150 people had already been queued up for hours by midday in front of Apple’s store in the historic Opera district.

First unveiled on March 2 by Apple’s chief executive Steve Jobs, the new tablet has been on sale in 236 US stores since March 11.

A third thinner and nearly 15 percent lighter than its first-generation predecessor, the iPad 2 is also equipped with both front- and rear-facing cameras for photography, movie-making or video chat.

It weighs 1.3 pounds (590 grams), down from 1.5 pounds, has the same 10-hour battery life as the previous model, and comes in black and white versions.

The manufacturing roll-out of the sought-after item could be in jeopardy due to the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan on the same day as sales were launched in the United States, according to IHS iSuppli.

Apple sold 15 million iPads last year, generating 10-billion dollars in revenue and establishing the multi-tasking device as a “must-have” consumer item for many.

In Europe, the iPad 2, equipped with WiFi wireless technology, will carry a recommended price tag of US$692 dollars for the 16 GB version, the company said.

The countries besides France where the iPad goes on sale are: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, Norway, New Zealand, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.



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