September 17th, 2010
06:36 AM GMT
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Beijing, China (CNN) – I’ve never really understood the whole obsession with Apple. Like today in Beijing, where it has been gently raining overnight and outside the Apple store (one of two in China, the other is in Shanghai), there they were – the Mac Heads, not a lot, maybe a hundred lining up to buy the iPad.

Technically this was the official launch, but in reality I could have bought one in April in what’s known as the gray market. My “dealer,” who’s name is also John, told me for a fee flight attendants deliver iPads from the U.S.; he then adds his costs so a gray market iPad costs about US$800 for the basic model. I guess for John, today’s official launch means he’s out of the iPad business.

But the point is – for a few hundred dollars extra, a true Mac Head in China could have had their own iPad months ago, yet there was something special about buying the tablet gizmo from the official Apple store. A point not lost on Han Ziwen, a 35 year old book store owner, who stood in line for three days.

“I don’t support smuggling, although some Chinese people got to use this product before me, they’re not like me, because I purchased this product in China,” he said.

Seems like a pretty fine point to me.

But Mac Heads are not like ordinary people, which may explain why they have their own online dating service – at first I thought it was an internet hoax, but the web site (http://cupidtino.com/home) seems real enough (iPhone 4 girl seeks older iPhone2 guy, must be in good condition?). And it may explain why in the movie “Mac Heads” – one woman says: “I’ve never knowingly slept with a Windows user.”

That must narrow down the playing field. Hence, the dating service – just don’t mention Adam and Eve and the Apple thing. Another telling point in the movie is the man who says “Muslims have Mecca, we have Macca.”

But getting back to China, such is Apple’s status in this country that Mac Heads here are willing to pay more than American Mac Heads – almost twenty per cent more mostly because of higher Chinese taxes. That’s a lot in a country where wages are a lot lower. One woman told me just spent a month’s wages on an iPad and thought it was a bargain.

And for Apple, launching in China means the company may now be on track to sell 12 million iPads this year, maybe 20 million next year. That’s a lot of Mac love.

Final disclosure, I use Windows, while my wife and daughter both love Mac (Mac Heads don’t just use it they loooove it) so we’re a divided family. I often warn them “We are Microsoft, resistance is futile”.

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