Apple Preparing for iPad Retail Debut

March 28, 2010

Retail preparations have begun for the debut of the iPad this Saturday, as Apple and Best Buy work to balance a limited supply of devices against the expected long lines of eager buyers. Like nearly every previous Apple software and hardware introduction, overnight waiting lines are expected at the stores on April 3rd, composed of first-day tech buyers and Apple “gotta be there” loyalists. The iPad will debut only at Apple’s U.S. stores and at Best Buy stores that have an Apple store-within-a-store or an ASC. The limitation originates from two factors: Apple’s decision to have only informed, trained staffers sell the iPad, and the limited supply of iPads. For Apple’s part, they ended iPad purchase reservations yesterday, apparently receiving enough pre-orders to sell out the initial production of iPads.

Originally Apple said pre-orders could be picked up at Apple’s stores on April 3rd, or would ship from the on-line store that same day. Now availability has slipped back to April 12th for the on-line store, and iPad availability will undoubtedly be spotty at the retail stores. Insiders say all in-store events have been cancelled for April 3rd, staffing will be beefed up and arrangements made for dual waiting lines—one for walk-in purchases and another for reserved iPad purchases. Apple and Best Buy stores will open at 9 a.m.  to begin selling the iPad. Those who have reserved an iPad for in-store pick-up will have only until 5 p.m. to pick up the device. After that, the iPad will be released for walk-in buyers.

Best Buy will have a extremely limited number of iPads for sale—reportedly just five each of the three Wi-Fi configurations for each store carrying the iPad, of which there are over 600 out of 1,032 stores in the chain. The tuaw.com Web site has posted Best Buy plans for the iPad debut telling local managers, “Customers will line up at your store prior to opening,” and warning them to “build a distribution and redemption plan to eliminate customer disappoints.”

It’s likely that Apple will post a store-by-store “availability” Web page for the iPad by April 3rd, as they have done previously for limited supplies of new iPhone models. Apple has announce their stores will offer a “Personal Setup” service for every iPad buyer. Also, starting Saturday morning, the company says they’ll be offering “special iPad workshops to help customers learn more about this magical product.”

ZDNet reports that the iPad is not eligible for the routine 10 percent discount offered to Apple retail store employees. They also were not eligible to reserve an iPad for in-store pick-up. The rules are apparently intended to maximize availability of the iPad for customers.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Don March 28, 2010 at 1818

That’s *Delivered* on the same day (april 3rd) not Shipped.

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RM March 28, 2010 at 1843

My reservation email said the reservation would only be valid until 3PM.

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PA March 28, 2010 at 1938

The reservation states: (directly quoted) “Pickup Date and Time: April 3 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Please note that your reservation will be held only until 3 p.m. on April 3. After 3 p.m., iPad will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, while supplies last.”

April 3rd is a Saturday, by the way.

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Gary March 28, 2010 at 1954

Everyone: Thanks for the clarifications on the iPad pick-up and on-line deliveries. Apple is really trying to give as many people as possible a shot at buying an iPad on April 3rd.

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Eric March 29, 2010 at 1213

OBTW For those that didn’t realize this: April 3 is a _SATURDAY_! I was totally surprised by this. Product rollout on a Saturday? I think that’s a first for Apple.

So I expect Apple Stores will be opening early on Saturday (not Friday) to begin selling iPads.

I wish it was Friday though :(

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Joe March 30, 2010 at 0357

Something odd I learned recently:
My Apple Store (Pioneer Place; Portland, OR) doesn’t officially open until 10 Am anymore. I called to see if this was correct, the man told me I could make a personal shopping reservation for before 10 Am. I told him that was alright. Because frankly that would be creepy shopping alone with just me and the Apple Store employee. x.X

PS: I ended up not going to the store that day to spend my money. Good fight – whoever made this change.

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Marktrek March 30, 2010 at 0627

My experience with every Apple store that I have needed was that they actually opened before advertised times. They are taking One to One training and Genius Bar appointments early. And if they have someone else on the floor they will usually let customers in. No, you do not have to have a personal shopper. But this is probably on a store by store basis. Don’t expect iPads to be offered early.

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Guest March 30, 2010 at 1820

Tips from an insider on how this is gonna work:

1) Just like the iPhone launch, but without the AT&T headache.
2) People who reserved get priority. Didn’t reserve? Get in line and get in line early.
3) Probably NO technical support or training until after 3PM. Don’t call; RESERVE ONLINE.
4) If you need support, call AppleCare. 800-APL-CARE. Stores are not trained for phone tech support.
5) Stores will have limited quantities for first come, first serve purchase. See #2.
6) You’ll likely still be able to purchase Macs and iPods and everything else, but plan to spend some time. Hopefully there will be people available for small purchases in addition to people who will be spending time selling iPad plus everything else.
7) Don’t get pissed if you don’t get an iPad. It’s not the end of the world and demand will go down and you’ll be able to get one soon.
8) Take advantage of discounts on extras like the $30 off on MobileMe. Sign up for a trial and you can always return the *unopened* box if you don’t like it, but if you do then hey you saved $30 on the first year!
9) Got a Mac and/or an iPod Touch or iPhone? Get MobileMe. See #7.
10) Want to learn more about iPad? You’re already online; go to apple.com/ipad

Thanks, and see y’all on Saturday!

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mac.guy March 30, 2010 at 1839

If the Apple Store comes up short, check with your local Apple Specialist. Ours put me on a waiting list — seems they will be authorized and will get at least a few on opening day.

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Guest March 31, 2010 at 1850

*ONLY* Apple Stores and Best Buy ASCs will have iPad on launch. As for post-reserveration “wait list” it ain’t gonna happen. Get in line. See #2

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mac.guy March 31, 2010 at 1904

I understand that some Apple Specialists will be carrying them as well. Not sure where your source of info is – Guest, but seemed pretty legit with the couple dealers I checked in with. Maybe Apple is saving the best for themselves this weekend and a surprise is in the wings….believe it or not, I like our local dealer — they know their stuff and have built a long term relationship I can trust my business with.

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Guest April 1, 2010 at 1501

Only Apple Stores. Only Best Buy locations with Apple in-store. Nowhere else.

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Joe April 7, 2010 at 0003

Epic fail Guest! They were clearly at some Apple Specialists resellers. :P

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