Bobbing for an Apple: In Pursuit of an iPad 2

Apple2

That was the scene at about 7 a.m. on Saturday at the Apple store in suburban St. Louis. Scads of eager iPad 2 cravers. Bleary-eyed, but hopeful we would emerge in a couple of hours with a shiny new device (or two).

I had arrived at about 6:45 a.m., earning spot #25, which was noted on the ragged cardboard square handed to me by a cheerful security guard (“You here for a computer?” she asked, to which I responded, “I think.”)

Little did I know my tentativeness would be so well-founded.

Turns out the majority of us early-rising lemmings would leave the building clutching little more than deflated tablet dreams.

At about 7:30, a well-meaning Apple employee explained to the growing crowd that the “inventory specialist” was currently reviewing all the available stock and would join us at about 8:30 to hand out vouchers that matched each person with his or her chosen device(s). He delivered the same speech several times, moving down the line of consumers so everyone could have the benefit of hearing the process.

“That’s nice of him,” I thought, while hoping the thorough approach meant the store had substantial stock to distribute to its 100+ waiting customers. 

Then promptly at 8:30, the “Inventory Specialist” made his anticipated entrance, explaining that they actually only had three models available: a white WiFi 64GB (the device I wanted), a black Verizon 3G 16GB and another one. Once again, he moved through the crowd, repeating the roster several times so the entire throng could hear his spiel.

What happened next is sort of a blur, but I’m fairly certain he didn’t even reach customer #10 before announcing they were completely sold out.

Talk about a total mood killer.

Several in the crowd just peacefully dispersed (I’m guessing it wasn’t their first time around this block…)

Others thought this dude had some ‘splainin’ to do
– “How many iPads did you actually have”?
– “Why can’t you tell us earlier when your stock is low”?
– “How come you didn’t you get any AT&T models”?

His sheepish responses amounted to: “We don’t have control of what they send to us,“ “We’re not allowed to disclose specific numbers” and “You’re welcome to try again a different morning.

Not exactly stick-to-your-ribs answers.

But my fellow buffoons and I left the premises without incident, feeling more than a little disappointed and taken advantage of. 

I’ve read all sorts of conjecture that Apple may be intentionally stockpiling its inventory to drive demand (and ongoing publicity) for its newest, hottest product. But I find it hard to believe that Apple intentionally wants to piss off its customer base – and when 90 percent of customers leave a store completely dissatisfied, it strikes me as a real customer-service problem.

Alas, Apple ain’t talking – or delivering.

And so, I will live another day (or week/month/etc.) without experiencing the joys of Flipboard, Netflix, Dropbox, Google Earth and Twitter on the iPad.

I’ll live.

If only there were a suitable substitute 

Afterword:

Given the recent tragedy in Japan, unrest in the Middle East and cancellation of “Two and a Half Men,” I know my iPad envy is fairly insignificant. OK, it’s ridiculously insignificant.

But cut me some slack here. I willingly chose to delay purchasing an iPad until the second-generation device was introduced. Now that it’s here, I’m ready to finally satisfy this pent-up desire.

Cardboard

For the scrapbook: the official number denoting my place in the pack.