iPad 2 shortages spread to the afterlife

iPad 2 shortages may have started easing in the U.S. but they're plaguing the afterlife in Malaysia: Chinese families there are scrambling to find paper replicas of the new tablet to burn at the tombs of their ancestors.

The practice is part of the annual and ancient Qingming festival, also known as the tomb sweeping festival. Chinese families throughout Asia honor their ancestors by burning fake money or replicas of luxury items such as flashy cars and designer bags, according to a Reuters report from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

IN PICTURES: iPad 2: What's new, unchanged and still missing

This year, the hottest candidate for burning is in short supply: paper replicas of the iPad 2. Jeffrey Te, a "prayer item shopkeeper" with a shop near the capital, imported 300 iPad 2 replicas from (where else?) China for the festival. Like Apple itself, the stock sold out in a jiffy, and Te is left scrambling to meet the demand.

"I can only offer them the first iPad model," he says, pointing to shelves laden with the paper tablets and paper iPhones and Samsung Galaxy Tabs, according to the Reuters story.

Te sells both models, with an 888-gigabyte capacity ("an auspicious number in Chinese culture," says Reuters) for $1. Apple sells the basic 16-gigabyte iPad for $499.

But the paper high-tech gadgets are not for all the dead, many of whom of course predate the Digital Generations. Reuters: "They belong to the older generation," said Thomas Soong, 61, as he set fire to a pile of fake money at his grandmother's grave. "If you give all these so-called iPads, they don't know how to use it. So traditionally we give them shoes, shirts ... all the necessities."

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.

Twitter: http://twitter.com/johnwcoxnww

Email: john_cox@nww.com

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