Sunday, March 13, 2011

Only crazy people have the iPad 2 right now.



I never figured that I'd be one of the crazies standing in line for the newest iWorldChanger. Sure, I have pretty much iEverything, but I generally order it all from the comfort of my own home and boxer briefs. Initially, when I watched the Apple announcement, I felt pretty good. Apple was making a strong platform move, but they hadn't included anything that was a must have for me. I'd get to use my much loved iPad 1 for another year and I could look forward to upgrading next cycle. Done.

Then the Chief Acolyte weighed in. "Honey, if you get the new iPad, we can send your old one to my brother in China." This amounts to a spousal new shiny-toy purchase full dispensation. I'd also promised The Novice a new iPad for her sixteenth birthday and she'd been waiting patiently for the new model to arrive.

On Friday, I checked the website, but not early enough. By the time I looked at the site, the deliveries were already at 2-3 weeks. Now it is well-known that the stores on the first day of release are strictly for the crazies. I moseyed past my local AT&T store around 4:00 PM to see if there was a line, but it turned out that they had only received 5 units and they had taken orders starting who knows when. I figured I'd try my luck on the second day. Historically, Apple has resupplied their stores every day during a new product release.

Arriving at 8:20 AM on Saturday morning at the Apple Store in Manhasset (which opens at 10:00 AM), there were already about 20 people ahead of me. A great number of the people on line seemed to be Chinese and from their dress and comportment, my guess was that a significant number of them were buying to resell on the Chinese grey market. This pattern would continue as the line grew. (For the record, I am also Chinese.) A shout out here to Stephanie, Warren and Jennifer my iPad 2 line homies.

Periodically, what appeared to be a Store Manageress came out and gave us the party line. "We have no iPad 2s in stock. You are welcome to line up here in anticipation of deliveries. We have no ETAs, no information about quantities to be delivered today. We will let you know what we have as soon as we get it."

Sometime around 10:30 A FedEx truck pulls up to a round of cheering from the linies. Three hand trucks worth of various sized boxes are unloaded.

By 10:51 there were probably about 200 people on line. Around 11:00 AM they came down the line and said, "We received fewer than 10 iPad 2s in the shipment. They are all gone. We do not anticipate receiving anymore iPad 2s today." and with that c. 250 person-hours of line waiting vanished into a reluctantly dispersing, slightly incredulous crowd.

I was pretty much set to leave at this time. I was even in my car, but it occurred to me that the Chief Acolyte had asked me to pick up a iPhone 4 bumper for her bro. So I went back into the store, picked out a color and then wandered over to the iPad 2 display to mess around with them a bit. I'd pulled my iPad 1 out of my bag and was doing side-by-side comparisons, when a blueshirt asked me, "You interested in buying an iPad 2 today? I'd hop on line right now." I dropped the bumper, jammed my iPad back in my bag and nipped back outside and got on to the new line only about 10 people back from where I'd been in the first line. Somehow the word had gone around that a UPS truck had pulled up and a new line instantly formed.

Blueshirts immediately appeared and delivered the party line, "We have no iPad 2s in stock. You are welcome to line up here in anticipation of deliveries. We have no ETAs, no information about quantities to be delivered today. We will let you know what we have as soon as we get it." When asked pretty much anything, they were all, "We know nothing." They even exuded a whiff of, "We have no idea why these crazy people are lining up next to our store again today." I asked one of these blueshirts why the blueshirt in the store had told me to get back on line. "Who told you that? I have no idea why anyone would have said that to you." I declined to identify my tipster, but when I saw him again I asked him if I really should stay in this line and he said, "I would."

So I stayed. It took about another hour. They counted us off. I was #31. Warren was the only member of my first line cohort that I saw back on the line and he was about 15 ahead of me. The limit was now one per customer due to extremely limited quantities. Then they told us that they had received wifi only and Verizon units. Originally I had intended to get an AT&T unit which is more useful as it is an unlocked GSM device. Should I give up my precious 31st position in line and the hours I'd invested in this fool's errand, or should I take the Verizon unit? Since I don't really travel internationally and I have both AT&T and Verizon accounts, it wasn't really a deal-breaker for me. The Novice is planning to study abroad so she really wants the GSM, that fact combined with the hours I've put into this mean that this unit is MINE.

They shuffle us into the store one single digit group at a time. Periodically there are announcements. "16 GB wifi only sold out." "Verizon white sold out." "Verizon white available again." Around 1 PM I finally make it out with the 32GB white Verizon with a cream leather smart cover.

So. What's the final verdict? Apple certainly has a way of obliterating one's better judgment. I have no need for this thing. The cameras that have been added are truly craptastic in quality. The cover that I bought for $80 is more a thing that needs protection than a thing that will offer any. (That thing about cleaning the screen is utter poppycock BTW, unless you actually smoosh the cover around on the screen). It is lighter than than iPad 1 but not so much that it makes a real difference. Is it faster? I never noticed the old one being slow. AND I ENDED UP WITH THE CARRIER I DIDN'T WANT.

I love it anyway.

Sigh.

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