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Chicago iPad fan snags her prize after 15-hour wait

Dawn Citino from Chicago is first get new iPad Apple Store 679 N. Michigan Ave Friday March 16 2012 .

Dawn Citino from Chicago is first to get the new iPad at Apple Store, 679 N. Michigan Ave, Friday, March 16, 2012 . | John H. White~Sun-Times.

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Updated: March 16, 2012 8:59PM

Apple store employees wearing blue shirts descended the stairs at the North Michigan Avenue store at 7:58 a.m. Friday and clapped until they opened the doors promptly at 8 a.m. to eager new iPad buyers.

About 131 fans standing outside in 48-degree weather were let inside in small groups.

Dawn Citino, a 45-year-old Sears inventory manager who had waited outside since Thursday afternoon, said she was so excited, she couldn’t “wait to get home and play.”

Citino owns an iPhone, a MacBook Pro and both iPad1 and 2 versions, and said she couldn’t wait to enjoy the new iPad’s high-definition screen, faster speed and bigger processor.

“My iPad has replaced my laptop and desktop,” she said. “Apple has transformed personal computing.”

Citino had waited 15 1/2 hours for her coveted device, making friends in the process who took turns on bathroom breaks and hot-drink runs. Yet the iPad wait wasn’t Citino’s longest; she had waited 16 hours for the very first iPhone.

Number four in line, Miguel Siman, an 18-year-old freshman film major at Loyola, said he has used an Apple computer since he was 5.

“It’s been since the beginning of time,” said the Rogers Park resident and native of El Salvador, invoking a Steve Jobs-like phrase and look upward to the sky.

The sky was the limit for Sandibell Hidalgo’s hopes to surprise her boyfriend on his birthday Friday as she stood at the end of the line, holding her 2-year-old daughter, Ofelia, in a blanket.

“I wanted to get something different,” she said, noting that her boyfriend, Ruben Torres, of the Portage Park neighborhood, had gotten her an iPhone4 for her 26th birthday. Torres is turning 27.

Ash Kayo, a 30-year-old tax consultant visiting Chicago from Tokyo, stood in line only a few minutes before she reached the Apple store’s entryway.

She will surprise her brother with the new iPad after he graduates Friday with an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Kayo owns a Mac computer, an iPod and an iPhone. She said she considers her iPod an essential accessory, and her Internet network provider in Tokyo offers free texting with the iPhone.

“All my friends use it to text each other,” she said.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple, whose stock is now valued at more than $600 a share, and had stopped taking advance orders for Friday earlier in the week.

Not all of the news was happy for Apple on Friday, however, as activist group led protests outside Apple stores in Washington, D.C., New York City and San Francisco to urge the computer company to improve working conditions in Chinese factories where many Apple products are manufactured. The New York Times also reported hundreds of complaints have been lodged claiming that Apple’s iTunes Store had allowed fraudulent purchases to appear on some users’ accounts. An Apple spokeswoman said the company had no comment about the New York Times report, and that the company insists that its suppliers provide safe working conditions, treat workers with respect and use environmentally responsible processes.

Yet nothing could wipe the smiles off of the faces of new iPad purchasers. The excitement started in Australia, where people piled into stores of the local phone company, Telstra, which started selling the iPads shortly after midnight there.

Buyers expressed their enthusiasm for the new device’s retina-display feature that touts a higher-resolution screen than a high-definition TV, an updated processor for faster speeds and the ability to turn into a user’s own personal high-speed “hot spot” to hook up to the Internet, according to media reports.

Apple store representatives in Chicago said they will have “plenty” of new iPads in stock. They declined to give the specific numbers, but shoppers awaiting entry into the North Michigan Avenue store at about 9 a.m. had no problem getting the device.

The new iPads were also being sold at select local RadioShack, Target, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club and AT&T and Verizon stores.

There were 15.4 million iPads shipped in Apple’s most recent quarter nationwide, which included the critical holiday season. That amount was more than double its iPad sales the year before.

The new iPad was announced a week ago, without a new name. The new features will make the tablet computer slightly thicker and heavier than the iPad 2 because it needs a larger battery to power the high-resolution screen. But tech-expert reports say a new technology feature will extend the battery life beyond that of the iPad 2.

Prices are not changing from the previous models. They will start at $499. Versions capable of accessing cellular networks will cost $629 to $829. Those who want to “recycle” their older iPads may obtain their worth at Apple or various websites and receive that amount on a gift card or in cash. Citino said she would sell her old iPad to a co-worker who doesn’t have one.

Citino, wearing a floppy green-and-white St. Patrick’s Day hat, said she planned to spend about $1,200 on her device — after taxes and various extras.

“Their products are so well made, they are so well done, so intuitive, that you want to be the one to brag and say, ‘I got it first,’” said Citino, director of inventory management for footwear at Sears Holdings.

Contributing: Staff Reporter Stefano Esposito and AP

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