The new Apple iPad goes on sale today.
In Tokyo, where stores opened earlier, hundreds lined up, some for a day and a half, for a chance to buy the new device.
At the company's store in the upscale Ginza shopping district, dozens of blue-shirted employees counted down the final seconds to 8 a.m. local time when sales began. A phalanx of reporters several rows deep crowded the main door as the first of over 400 shoppers streamed inside to buy the device.
Since the iPad 2 went on sale in April of last year, dozens of rival tablets have launched, some by big-name Japanese companies like Sony and Toshiba. But none of these come close to generating the buzz - or sales - of the iPad, even in its third iteration.
Online preorders of the new device quickly sold out, and there is currently a wait period of several weeks for online orders. Apple made sure there was stock at its stores on launch day, though analysts have said the device's high-resolution screen is complicated to manufacture and may cause shortages for the company, which also happened after the iPad 2 launch.
But those that lined up early Friday morning were in a festive mood, cheering as they entered the store, slapping hands with Apple staff and posing for the many photographers on hand.