Stores selling Apple’s iPad ran out of stock within hours of the gadget going on sale in Hong Kong after thousands of people queued outside shops, a media report said Saturday.

Apple has restricted sales of the iPad to just 21 stores in the city, with around 6,000 units available when it went on sale on Friday, the South China Morning Post reported.

Customer T M Wong, 35, criticised the arrangement. “It’s Apple’s marketing - it limits the sale to just a few shops, so it appears a lot of people are queuing outside them,” he said.

In Asia, sales have been restricted to just Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan.

One group of youngsters started to queue outside a store, one of four authorised to sell iPads in the Mongkok district of the city, at about 2 am on Friday morning to be sure of getting their iPads.

Hundreds of people were later queuing outside the four shops before they opened.

Ken Ng, merchandise director for the electronics chain Fortress, said the tablet sold out in a day and he did not know when the next batch would arrive in the territory.

The price of the iPad in Hong Kong was in line with the price in the United States. The top of the range 16-gigabyte version equipped with Wi-fi and 3G was 4,888 Hong Kong dollars (629 USdollars), while the cheapest available was 3,888 Hong Kong dollars.