Apple’s iPad2 launch: sold out or sellout?

Sure, I know.  It’s pretty rare you hear the words “Apple” and “fail” even mentioned in the same neighborhood (unless it’s a snicker aimed at 1993’s Newton launch,) so let me clarify.

You can call me something of an Apple freak: since my first Mac Classic II in 1990, I’ve upgraded through the IIci, the LCIII, the Quadra line to the Power Mac, Peforma into the Bondi iMac G3. I’m also one of the six people who still owns two G4 Cubes.  I then fell in love with the G5 flatscreen iMacs, and bought a bunch – first the white ones, then the aluminum babes.  My latest supplications:  the latest Powerbook and the 27″ iMac G5. You can call me sentimental:  I still listen to rock tunes on my white (huge) first-generation iPod. You can call me ridiculous:  I was on line in June 2007 for the first iPhone, and have upgraded obediently through iPhone 4.  (And I’ll get my iPhone 5 this June, if they’re in stock!)

But now, you can call me peeved.  This iPad2 release has left me – and a lot of other folks just itching to be separated from hundreds of hard-earned dollars – a bit flat.  iPad2 was launched in stores on March 11, at 5:00 pm. I’m not down on the early evening release:  it helps the retail stores to get their inventory squared away, and get the systems upgraded to handle massive checkouts.  But unless I’m mistaken, it also makes for great localized PR – virtually every local newscast carries stories of the ridonkulous lines around the block at every Apple store in the country. Every day, I visit my local Apple store to hear the sad news from the dude in the blue shirt:  “we had ‘em.  But we sold out. In, like, 10 minutes.”

What’s going on here?  Is this an epic fail of distribution planning?  A gross underestimation of demand?  A glitch in the system?  A return to what Chris Anderson calls “scarcity economics” in The Long Tail?  All not likely from the historically over-prepared Apple Inc.  What’s more likely is that they’re enjoying kicking their competitors in the gut with yet another huge hit of performance computing.  So why not milk every last drop of extra PR coverage out of this sucker?

[In fairness, there are logistical problems facing many parts manufacturers in Japan, impacting their delivery schedules.  (The tsunami and the iPad release on the same day.  Weird.) But Apple has said nothing of the matter – instead, they’re enjoying the long lines and long waits. Call me cynical.]

Here’s the worst part.  I, and many others in my situation, am starting to come to the horrendous realization that maybe, perhaps, just a bit…I could live without an iPad2.  After all, I’ve waited nearly three weeks.  What’s another year?

If your company is considering any kind of PR stunt in the near future, make sure your consumers get the BENEFIT of the stunt, not the brunt of it.

One thought on “Apple’s iPad2 launch: sold out or sellout?

  1. Kendra Vellante April 2, 2011 / 5:28 pm

    Thank you to you and David for coming in to Manhattan College! I learned a lot and I felt like your teachings helped me figure out what direction I will take in advertising after graduating!
    Thanks again!


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