Getting the iPad 2 was a lot easier than I thought
After a frustrating morning of chasing around to different Walmart, Target and Best Buy stores hoping to get an early iPad 2, I came home for the afternoon to rethink my plan. I made some calls and decided on a small Best Buy store near my house. It's kind of out of the way and that was part of my strategy. I arrived there around 3:30 to find a line of only 10 people and labeled myself a genius.
My genius status lasted all of a few minutes. As I walked up to the line the guy at the end said "I hope you don't want a 3G iPad because they don't have any." As it turns out, because that Best Buy is smaller they didn't get many iPads and they didn't get any 3G ones on either carrier. After speaking to a customer service person inside the store I discovered the two larger stores in Tampa Bay, South Tampa and Clearwater, were the only stores to get 3G iPads. I called the South Tampa store and they confirmed, saying they had 35 people in line. Taking a calculated risk, I jumped in my MINI and drove to South Tampa
The line of 35 had become about 45 by the time I got there. And then, the wait was on. In the line there were stories of 450 people in line at the Apple Store, about a mile away, and one guy in the line said he watched as an employee at the Clearwater Best Buy was fired on the spot for telling a customer how many iPads they had on hand.
Best Buy had their act together and at 4:30 they sent various Geek Squad members down the line with order forms for the various iPad models. They had printed one form for every type of iPad they had, so they when they were out of forms they were out of iPads. It was a smooth and simple way to do things.
Once the line started moving at 5 PM it was just 62 minutes until I had my iPad 2. When I left the store about 20 people were in line outside with another 40 inside. At that store it looked like everyone in line was leaving with an iPad 2 today.
I decided to go by the Apple Store on the way home and that was a different story. I arrived around 6:20 and about 200 people were still in line outside with another 50 or so inside. The store was very chaotic with lots of people using the Personal Setup service for the iPads. The shelf behind the Genius Bar had about 50 iPads stacked up when I left around 7 PM. No telling if everyone who came there for an iPad went home with one.
In the end I did a lot of unnecessary running around, trying to beat the system. My instinct of staying away from the Apple Store and going to the other retailers was on target, or in this case, on Best Buy.
So now it's time to play! I'll be putting the iPad 2 through it's paces throughout the weekend with plans for a full report early next week, including a comparison with the original iPad.