With the iPad 2 launch nearly underway, tech enthusiasts are already lining up at stores all over the world for their chance to buy a piece of the Apple pie.
The iPad 2 goes on sale in Canada and 24 other countries at 5 pm local time today, and went on sale online at 1 AM PT this morning. But smaller resellers aren’t facing the same lines of excited consumers as the Apple Store, or large box stores such as Best Buy.
“The volume we have in stock as of the launch is not anywhere near what Best Buy can muster,” says Nick Dziedzic, design and marketing coordinator for Carbon Computing. It’s the largest Apple Specialist store in Ontario, but still small compared to major retailers like Future Shop.
According to the company’s chief operating officer Neil Oates, quantities will be very limited at first and they expect to be sold out within the weekend. But eventually, Carbon Computing will also hold seminars for consumers and businesses about how to capitalize on the iPad 2’s new features.
Scott Michaels, vice president of Atimi Software, waited in what he calls a “crazy” line-up in Denver, Colorado a few weeks ago during the iPad 2’s launch in the U.S. Still, he couldn’t get his hands on one until he visited San Francisco. “It was impossible to get one if you didn’t get there at midnight the night before,” he says.
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For Michaels, it still feels like Apple has a year lead on other tablet-makers. “It’s kind of an iconic device,” he says of the iPad. Rumours about the second-generation iPad’s specs created a “pent-up demand,” he says.
In February, ChangeWave Research surveyed more than 3000 consumers about their tablet choices. Of current iPad owners, 70 per cent were “very satisfied” with it, and 25 per cent were “somewhat satisfied,” the survey results suggest.
Of future tablet buyers, 82 per cent said they would buy an iPad over other tablets, including Research in Motion’s Playbook. The survey was completed before the announcement of the iPad 2.
And that means people are willing to spend hours in long line-ups to spend hundreds of dollars.
In Denver, Michaels says, at least one Best Buy store took $100 deposits from customers wanting to buy the iPad 2 as a way to hold their place in line, to avoid the logistical nightmare of dozens of people outside the store. If the customers chose not to put their deposit towards the iPad 2, they would receive a $100 gift card from Best Buy.
Some stores also use a ticket system to avoid gigantic line-ups. More than 24 hours before the product is officially allowed to be sold, a line-up was reportedly forming outside the Apple store in the Toronto Eaton Centre.
Overseas, the iPad 2 launched in London to long lineups at retail stores, of customers who just couldn’t wait for delivery.
According to the Telegraph one eager customer, Jewels Lewis, arrived outside the Apple Store in London’s Regent Street 33 hours before the on sale time.
People generally know that smaller resellers may not have enough of a high demand product, so waiting in line at a store like that may not be worth it, according to Michaels.