I'm first in the UK to buy new iPad at bleakest launch ever

The PC World store on London's Tottenham Court Road beat Apple's own iPad launch event by eight hours last night.

Andrew Lanxon headshot
Andrew Lanxon headshot
Andrew Lanxon Editor At Large, Lead Photographer, Europe
Andrew is CNET's go-to guy for product coverage and lead photographer for Europe. When not testing the latest phones, he can normally be found with his camera in hand, behind his drums or eating his stash of home-cooked food. Sometimes all at once.
Expertise Smartphones, Photography, iOS, Android, gaming, outdoor pursuits Credentials
  • Shortlisted for British Photography Awards 2022, Commended in Landscape Photographer of the Year 2022
Andrew Lanxon
2 min read

The queue to buy Apple's new iPad may have started at the Apple Store days ago, but the PC World store on London's Tottenham Court Road had its own launch as the clock ticked over to 16 March, beating Apple's own event by eight hours. Unexpectedly, this meant I was the first person in the UK to buy the new tablet. Sorry Zohaib!

PC Worlds nationwide will have received stock of Apple's new slate over the past couple of days, ready to put into the hands of the excited masses when it officially launches to the public today. Normally though, the official 'opening ceremony' is done by Apple itself, usually at its flagship Regent Street store.

The fact that PC World beat Apple to the punch is somewhat surprising, but not quite as startling as the distinct lack of people queueing at the shop. The queue had only begun to stretch out properly from around 11pm -- only an hour before the doors opened. By contrast, eager Apple fans had begun to queue outside the Apple store days ago.

PC World had 500 iPads in stock, but there were many fewer people than that in the queue, suggesting that word simply hadn't spread that the shop was doing this.

I caught up with one of the managers of the store, who explained the event was all above board. Unsurprisingly, Apple puts extremely strict restrictions on which shops can and can't do with its stock. In this case, instructions were only that the iPad goes on sale on 16 March -- but a specific time was not given. PC World decided to jump the gun and officially start selling a minute after midnight.

I hit the queue -- armed with fast food and beer (pictured above) -- and was second in line after Chris Leydon, who like me was buying the iPad for work reasons, rather than any particular desire for the latest kit. The shop assistant serving me was a bit quicker off the mark though, so I managed to be the first to buy an iPad in the UK. Sorry Chris, maybe we can have a showdown with the iPhone 5?

If you're in London and desperate to get your hands on a new iPad, head over to the Tottenham Court Road PC World and see if they have any stock left. Alternatively, check out the Apple store and Apple's website, but be prepared for a potentially long wait if you're ordering online. Apple's website has a couple of useful tools for finding your nearest store or reseller.

Have you got your hands on the latest iPad yet? Have you ever queued at a midnight launch? Cold, isn't it? Drop us a comment below, or over on our Facebook page.

While you're here, have a look at our hands-on of the new iPad from the launch

Watch this: New iPad hands-on