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Apple stores from London to Munich to Hong Kong to Tokyo were packed with customers as the New iPad went on sale.

Thousands of eager Apple devotees queued in the street for hours, or even days, to be the first people to get their hands on the new product and its much-vaunted Retina Display.

Apple's flagship central London store in Regents Street attracted a queue of 500 people by the time staff it threw open its doors - about the same number as those who besieged Apple's main Japanese outlet in the Ginza district of Tokyo.

Business at the Kingston store on the outskirts of London was quieter with about 50 Apple fans in the queue. A staff member said stock levels were very good.

Around the world, staff flanked the doorways of stores and applauded the arrival of customers in a scene reminiscent of a red carpet film premiere.

Most of the fans in London took up their pitch in the queue at midnight on Thursday to be among the first to check out the third-generation iPad, which boasts faster GPU and a better camera.

The New iPad has met with huge demand and "off the chart" sales.