iPad-mania hits Vancouver today

Apple fans are expected to start lining up early to be among the first in line for Friday morning’s launch of Apple’s new iPad in Canada.

As the launch date nears, Bell became the second Canadian carrier to announce its wireless data plan for the popular device, with pricing that matches that already announced by Rogers. Bell’s plans, which like Rogers are available with no contracts, start at $15 a month for 250 megabytes of data and $35 a month for five gigabytes. The plans include unlimited access at Bell Wi-Fi hot spots across Canada.

Apple retail stores are opening at 8 a.m. Friday for the launch of the iPad, which will also be available at Best Buy and Future Shop although there is no word on quantities. In addition, Apple has said the iPad will be available at "select" authorized resellers but Simply Computing, an independent Apple reseller in Vancouver, said it won’t know until Friday if it will get stock.

Best Buy communications manager Danielle Jang said stores will open at their usual times although staff will be handing out tickets to customers to exchange for an iPad if there are lineups.

"We don’t know how many we are going to be getting in," she said. "We know there is going to be a lot of interest."

Unlike the American April launch that only had the Wi-Fi version of the iPad available, both the Wi-Fi and 3G versions will be available in Canada. The lowest price iPad is the $549 16 GB Wi-Fi version, with the priciest the $879 64 GB Wi-Fi and 3G model.

Scott Michaels, vice-president of Atimi Software, a Vancouver development company that creates iPad and iPhone apps, said the rush of early adopters across the border to buy iPads when they were first available there may mean shorter lineups in Canada.

He said major Canadian companies seem to be waiting for the iPad to arrive, rather than creating apps to be out in time for the launch here.

"I’m interested to see the uptake in Canada to see if it matches the U.S. adoption of the device," said Michaels.

Gary Ng, who runs the blogs iPadinCanada.ca and iPhonein-Canada.ca, agrees that many of the early adopters already have their iPads.

Others pre-ordered in time for the May 28 delivery although orders now on the Apple site promise delivery only in June with no date specified. Still, Ng expects Friday’s launch will likely draw some crowds.

"I think people will line up," he predicted. "I think the iPad is living up to the hype, I think the sales numbers reflect that."

Ron Burnett, president of Emily Carr University of Art + Design, attributes the popularity of the iPad to its touch interface and how it is changing the way people use a computing device.

"That for me is a natural user interface as opposed to the traditional GUI [graphical user interface]," said Burnett. "You hold it, you touch it, feel it, play with it — it personalizes the relationships that you’ve created."

Burnett uses working with photo images as an example, pointing out that shuffling and sorting through photographs by touching the screen brings the user back to the days of actually handling prints.

"Both my hands are functionally active as I’m playing with it from a design perspective," he said. "I think that is something that is a game changer."

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WHERE TO FIND AND IPAD IN VANCOUVER:

Apple Store in Oakridge Centre Apple Store in Pacific Centre Any Future Shop or Best Buy

To find Apple retail stores across Canada: apple杭州龙凤/ca/retail/storelist

To find Apple resellers: apple杭州龙凤/ca/buy/locator

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