My hunt for the elusive iPad 2 delivers some big game

My hunt for the elusive iPad 2 delivers some big game

Summary: The Apple iPad 2 launched in stores yesterday and reports indicate it may be close to being sold out already. Apple performed well with their marketing plan and people are buying.


As I wrote early yesterday, the Apple online option quickly sold out. Apple's in-store orders, available at Apple, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, and Target, kicked off at 5 pm last night. I visited four places and called several others before I finally found one in stock. I thought it was a funny story while also showing how successful the iPad 2 launch weekend is going to be.

I ordered a 16GB WiFi white model just after the online store opened and my order status showed 3-5 business days. Since I cover the iPad here I really wanted to get my hands on one for this weekend. Unfortunately, I was on business in Alaska so had to first fly home to start my in-store iPad hunt. I landed at SeaTac International at 4:20 and was at my first Apple store at Southcenter at 4:45 pm. I was planning to buy a 16GB or 32GB WiFi model, but also had to make sure I was at my daughter's flag football exhibition game at 7:00 pm because no tech device trumps my family.

If you are reading this then I assume you are a tech lover and can understand this is the way we get our adrenaline up. I am sure there will be judgmental comments about how much of an idiot I was and why are we all so stupid, but please try to limit this and if you need to make those comments why even take the time to read this blog post?

Please share your "hunt for the iPad" story in the comments. Here is how my iPad 2 hunt worked out (times are as close as I could recall):

  • 4:20: Departed my plane and made my way to the car.
  • 4:45: Arrived at Southcenter Apple store. Hundreds of people were in line, longer than I have EVER seen for an Apple launch. I started walking to get into it, but it just kept going and going down the mall with the end too far away for me to seriously consider getting in. There was no way in the world I was getting out of there to make my 7 pm event. I ran to my car and took off to the closest Best Buy.
  • 5:00: It turns out that the Best Buy I have shopped at before in Tukwila is open and I just went to the wrong small shopping center (should have used my GPS to drive one block further south). closed and was turned into a Kohl's. I did pass an AT&T store so I ran in there. They had none in the store and tried to get me to order one for delivery to their store. No thanks, let's keep moving.
  • 5:02: I called the Tukwila Target store before leaving the AT&T parking lot. They had five, but were all sold out now. Time to get moving again so I jumped on the I-5 freeway to head south towards my home.
  • 5:05: I called the next Best Buy down the highway (I used a Bluetooth speaker so was safely driving hands-free), but they would not answer the phone. I remembered there was a Target on the way so I called them. They had one 16GB white WiFi unit left, but wouldn't hold it. I was only about 5 miles away so kicked it up and headed that way.
  • 5:15: Traffic on the exit was really stacking up so I called the local AT&T store and was given the same option to purchase and have it delivered. I could not find an AT&T store with any new iPads and wonder if they even got any in for the launch event. It took me some time to get to the Target parking lot thanks to the traffic lights and congestion on the exit. I called them back to check and found out that last one was SOLD. What's next?
  • 5:25: I called the next closest Best Buy and was told there was a line, but they should still have some and the guy couldn't find the person handing out the tickets to verify what models were left so I should come in.
  • 5:27: I arrived at the Best Buy and ran in to check. Darn, all SOLD out here too. It seemed that I was not destined to pick up an iPad today so I decided just to drive home and wait for my online order to ship.
  • 5:33: I remembered there was one last Wal-Mart on the way home so I called them. I figured Wal-Mart probably had less stock than even Target, but was pleasantly surprised to learn they had some in stock still. The lady asked to place me on hold so she could go check which ones they were.
  • 5:36: I arrived at Wal-Mart, I was still on hold, and made it to the electronics section (yes, I was jogging). I got in line and then the lady came back on the phone to tell me they had one 32GB WiFi model and a few 64GB 3G models. I told her I was right behind her and that I would take the last WiFi model. Oh, sorry, the guy right in front of me was buying it. So close, yet so far. The kid buying it wanted the 16GB model and was paying with cash so he did not have enough. They told him he could run to the cash machine and they would wait. I have to tell you I was ready to jump right in and buy it if his cash situation didn't resolve itself. He came back a few minutes later with the cash to buy the last WiFi model.
  • 5:40: In a desperate act to get an iPad, I told the lady I would buy the 64GB 3G AT&T model (it was white while the Verizon one was black). This is NOT what I intended to do, but I really wanted the iPad and was interested in trying out the 3G functionality. Wal-Mart has a great no-questions asked 14-day return policy too so I might just stick with the 16GB model I ordered and return this one. At the rate they are selling though, maybe I will keep this one and sell the 64GB model. Wal-Mart did not have any Smart Covers, but I ordered an orange one online so that should arrive next week.
  • 6:15: Made it home, plugged in the iPad to charge it up, took a quick shower, and then headed to Mal's football game. My wife was OK with the hunt and purchase too since my birthday is on the 13th and she was having a tough time thinking of a gift. The game was fun and they ended up losing by just 1 point. BTW, my daughter is a natural fullback, just like I was :)

I have to admit, I was quite shocked about the lines and stock sell outs of this second generation iPad. There were no lines close to this size for the first iPad, but they had a pre-order system and people didn't really know if they needed or wanted a tablet at that time. Apple has really changed the game in the tablet space and their marketing is brilliant, if not annoying. Timing the launch in stores at 5pm on a Friday with no pre-orders was certain to bring out the people and the press. I still thought there would be a limited line and am shocked by the hundreds of people at the Southcenter Apple store. There was cheering, waves, and general excitement at that location and seeing this just confirmed to me that other tablet makers have major challenges ahead to compete in this space.

Topics: Tablets, Apple, Hardware, iPad, Laptops, Mobility, Networking, AT&T, Wi-Fi

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  • RE: My hunt for the elusive iPad 2 delivers some big game

    What a fun article! We've all been there in one form or another, glad you finally found one. Especially the delicious 64gb 3G model. Yum!<br><br>Also glad to read you put your family first. I know a lot of tech geeks that don't.
    • RE: My hunt for the elusive iPad 2 delivers some big game

      @vinyl313 I liked that he put his daughter?s flag football exhibition game (even though as an English person I have not a clue what this actually means) before his desire for the latest tech gadget.

      Nice article.

      My only question is; is it good marketing OR producing a device that people want? (My hunch is a little of both, I don't see Apple as just "good marketeers", but rather "good product designers")
      • RE: My hunt for the elusive iPad 2 delivers some big game

        @jeremychappell Flag football is American football, with one exception: Players wear belts with two strips of fabric attached with velcro. Tackling is not allowed - instead, an opposing player rips off one of the ballcarrier's flags to end the play. The purpose of this is to reduce injuries. It is commonly played in school physical education classes, etc.

        Re: the article, thanks for the heads-up that iPads are at Walmart and Target. I'll check there for one.
      • RE: My hunt for the elusive iPad 2 delivers some big game


        From Jon_K's description, it seems to be similar to what we in Oz would call "touch footie".
      • RE: My hunt for the elusive iPad 2 delivers some big game

        @Jon_K Ahh, I understand now. We have "tag rugby" which is pretty similar. Of course, I know about American Football (as we call it) as we see it here in the UK (pretty damn cool it is too).

        Thanks for the heads up.
      • RE: My hunt for the elusive iPad 2 delivers some big game

    • RE: My hunt for the elusive iPad 2 delivers some big game

      @vinyl313 i never saw ipad 2then
    • RE: My hunt for the elusive iPad 2 delivers some big game

    • RE: My hunt for the elusive iPad 2 delivers some big game

      Nice story.. what a rush! all for the sake of having an iPad. I like the way you prioritize a love one more than anything and by the way i congratulate you of having the gadget, all of your efforts are paid earnestly.

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    • RE: My hunt for the elusive iPad 2 delivers some big game

      @vinyl313 I read this post before I finished the blog post and I had visions of a gaggle of geeks stampeding over their own children to get an iPad2. Sadly as you mentioned, this is probably the case for some geeks.
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  • The NW

    Thanks for the update. I live in Seattle and ordered my iPad 2 on line with the 5-7 day ship date. It's good to know that I made a good decision and to see what it was like out at the stores. I was going to buy the cover and key board at the stores but ordered those online instead as well. I can't believe Southcenter's line was so long.
  • RE: My hunt for the elusive iPad 2 delivers some big game

    My local reseller @macoutfittersPA gave out "deli numbers" starting at 9am. I was out of town, but sent a friend there to get a number for me when he got his. We arrived together at 4:30 to a house party atmosphere. 4:50 the boxes came out and we lined up like we were boarding a SWA flight. We each got a sticker to reserve our selection while in line. 5:00 the line started moving with 3 registers. 5:20 I got mine. 6:30 my data from iPad 1 was restored. Read 1st impressions at <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"></a>. Support the local guys!
    • In your review, you mentioned speed...


      is it [i]that[/i] noticeably faster? Is it worth spending the extra money for a 16GB wifi vs the now discounted 1st Gen models?

      Or, to put another way, if I won't ever use facetime, and don't care about the slimmer design, is the speed increase a reason to pay the higher price?

      (I'm asking legitimately here... no sarcasm or trap intended. i know that's hard to believe on this website)
      • RE: My hunt for the elusive iPad 2 delivers some big game

        @chmod 777 Well, i went to an Apple Store to see it my self and yes...its blazing speed blew me....I went there for an appointment with Genius bar for my MBP but i spent most of the time with the ipad2...its simply brilliant. i am planning to get one next month.
      • RE: My hunt for the elusive iPad 2 delivers some big game

        @chmod 777 it sounds like you would be happy with the discounted iPad 1. The speed alone is not a reason to upgrade. It is not very noticeable. 16GB wifi iPad 1 is a great unit, especially now at $399 or less.
      • RE: My hunt for the elusive iPad 2 delivers some big game

        @chmod 777 I picked up a 16gb Ipad1 refurb from Apple for 350 with shipping. I use an Android phone and plan to get a Honeycomb tablet soon.
  • RE: My hunt for the elusive iPad 2 delivers some big game

    This is the funniest story...exactly the reason I ordered mine online at 5 a.m. CST yesterday. All my accessories will start arriving via UPS, FedEx, DHL, USPS starting next week. My iPad 2 will be shipped within 5-7 days and is scheduled to arrive between March 22-29. That's okay I suppose. I'll have ALL my accessories and will be ready to play.
  • RE: My hunt for the elusive iPad 2 delivers some big game

    I ordered by 2 am and was really disappointed to see that it wouldn't even ship until mid-next week. Might not have gotten it for 7-10 days! That's very different than what Apple offered for iPad 1. I ended up finding one at a local Target (northeast of seattle) and canceling my order with Apple.

    It is kind of crazy getting into a froth about not being able to wait (remember the old days when we'd mail in the box tops and wait 4-6 weeks for the toy?) but in this FedEx world, it's also crazy for Apple to not have taken pre-orders and set them up for Saturday delivery today.
  • San Diego (Carlsbad store)

    Arrived at 4:40 to find hundreds of anxious Ipad buyers. <br>Got in line, Apple rep at end of line did not know if there would be enough. <br>At 5:00 line starts moving slowly.... <br>At 5:35 almost to point of voucher passout.<br>Only 16 gb white & black left, some disappointed buyers leave.<br>Got my ticket for 16 gig black.<br>Inside store by 5:40<br>Done paying for ipad & smartcover by 5:45<br>Total time only 1:05 way better than I thought it would take<br>BTW - they were out of stock by 5:50<br>Took advantage of personal setup and loaded up GarageBand on the spot<br>Can say I am amazed by this device.
  • RE: My hunt for the elusive iPad 2 delivers some big game

    I was #8 in the south center mall line. I was there since 8 am and line didn't start getting huge until 11am. Around 2 pm, line was already extending to the main hallway area and around the corner to the other side of the mall. Apple store was nice to people waiting in line and provided water and small snacks. I was originally going to buy the Xoom, but i was very disappointed after trying it for a while.