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New iPads make lukewarm debut

TAIPEI -- Taiwanese showed less enthusiasm for the debut of the iPad Air and iPad mini 2 on Monday than for new Apple devices in the past, as lines failed to form outside telecom operator outlets and stocks of the phones appeared to cover demand.

Taiwan's three biggest carriers on Monday began selling the Wi-Fi plus cellular models of the new iPads, which start at NT$11,990 (US$405) for a 16GB iPad Air and NT$9,590 for a 16GB iPad mini 2 if consumers sign a three-year contract.

Consumer interest in the cellular models, however, was “less enthusiastic” than for the original iPad mini, which hit Taiwanese stores in January 2013, according to Chunghwa Telecom Co., the country's largest mobile provider.

Supply of the new iPad series was expected to meet consumer demand on the first day of sales despite limited initial shipments, Chunghwa Telecom said, adding that it had more inventory of the iPad Air than of the iPad mini 2.

Far EasTone Telecommunications Co., Taiwan's third largest carrier, said it did not find people lined up outside its flagship store at the Taipei Main Station when it opened at 7 a.m., and only a few units of the two models had been sold before noon.

Taiwan Mobile Co., the country's second-biggest telecom operator, did not reveal initial sales figures for the new iPads, but said the devices are available in its over 800 stores around the country.

Local distributors said combined first-wave shipments to the three major operators would be limited to fewer than 1,000 units of the iPad mini 2 and fewer than 5,000 iPad Airs.

The iPad Air is 20 percent thinner and 28 percent lighter than the fourth generation iPad, while the iPad mini 2 features a razor-sharper retina display. Both devices run the iOS 7 platform.

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