Why can't you just buy an iPad mini?

Why can't you just buy an iPad mini?

Summary: It's a good thing Apple's devices are so simple to use because their buying process is the polar opposite of simple.


A few days ago, I posted my personal lamentations over the fact that my daughter wants an iPad mini and my son wants a Surface. The saga continues. It seems that some things are never easy. My wife brought home a brand new Surface that she purchased at the Microsoft store in our local mall. She told me all about it, its options and the price. Please note here that she went to the mall and bought the Surface. At the store. And, brought it home. All on the same day. Simple, right? Well, that of course, isn't the interesting part of the story. And, I use the term interesting to substitute for the real word that I want to use but unfortunately can't. Apple has a store in the same mall--maybe a hundred steps, give or take a few, from the Microsoft store. However, you can't walk in and buy an iPad mini. At least not easily.

My wife and daughter picked up the Surface, then walked those 100 steps to the Apple store to see the iPad mini and to purchase one. They only came home with the Surface. A single Surface. No iPad mini.

Although they have iPad minis, you can't buy one right then and there. You have to reserve one the night before you go to the store. Yes, that's right. Go to the online Apple store at 10pm the night before you come in and reserve your iPad mini. Then come in the next day and pick up your iPad mini. From the Apple store. The Apple store that you were at the day before.

So, my wife just listened to the person at the store explain the whole process (that I'm paring down for sanity's sake--my own of course) and then walked away saying, "I'll just order it online." She did order it online and it will be here in a couple of weeks, engraved with my daughter's name.

My question is, "Why do we have an Apple store if you can't buy stuff there?" Isn't that what the store is for? It's supposed to be a matter of convenience. Or, is it just a demo store--a catalog store of sorts where you can go look at merchandise but you have to place your orders through a catalog?

I told my wife and daughter that, if she wants a little electronic screen gadget thingy, she can have a Kindle Fire for half the price and I'll buy her a whole case of Duct Tape* to make up the difference.

I'm wondering why the Apple purchase process has to be so complicated. When my wife first wanted to buy me an iPad 1, it was a mess too. You had to order it, wait for a confirming email and then come in three days later to buy the iPad. That's one of the reasons I told her to forget it. Several months later, I bought it at Wal-Mart.

For a company that makes simple gadgetry, with sleek design and user friendliness at its core (pun intended), you'd think they could streamline the purchasing process. How about stocking a few of the things at the store? That would help.

Maybe Foxconn is on strike or something. Maybe Apple doesn't understand supply and demand. Maybe Apple just doesn't care. Maybe Apple knows that people will buy their overpriced products regardless of how hard they make it to do so. I'm surprised that they haven't produced their own reality show to make people compete for a place in line to buy their stuff. Maybe they just haven't thought of it yet. Maybe I'm just irritable because my oldest son's Surface, my daughter's iPad mini and my middle son's new transmission means that all I'll get for Christmas is the credit card bill.

I think I'd trade this whole mess for a Ghetto Blaster and a box of 8-Track tapes.

*She uses a lot of Duct Tape. She makes all kinds of things with Duct Tape. She will have to go to Duct Tapers Anonymous very soon. The problem is that she believes that Duct Tape is the Higher Power, so it might not work at all.

Topics: Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Tablets


Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

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  • How's the Surface going?

    I have to point out that you can't just buy a Surface from a shop in most countries - I had to drop-ship mine from the U.S. Two weeks in shipment and counting... :(

    Apparently stores in New Zealand are getting them at the end of the month. Hopeless!
    • My Surface is fine

      Ordered two in Australia and they arrived two days before the agreed delivery date.

      Retail shopping, it's like the Internet without the convenience ;-)
      • I was going to do that

        Unfortunately the Australian MS online store ran out of the basic 32gb model :P
    • No ms stores...

      There's no ms store here to go into... We have resellers only.

      Tbh this article's a farce - feeling that any conpany are making it intentionally difficult to purchase their products is laughable.

      Why are apple telling him to reserve? Because they don't have stock to meet demand - same as google's nexus line; they can't build them fast enough; which is why you have to reserve or order and wait... Basically not just walk in and get them; it'd cause chaos; they say "we've got them friday" so 4000 people turn up to buy a couple hundred and fight it out, whilst the stores are clogged with people trying to gues when orders are comming.

      And no saying "but they should build more" is also nonsense; again they aren't doing it to be difficult; there are limits to everything.

      Why reserve the night before? So people who can't take days off and que for days on end... You those of us with kids, can stand a chance of getting them.

      At least google don't let you order stock they don't have; apple's biggest annoyance; after every launch it shoots up to 5-6weeks shipping; that's a long time for them to have tpur cash and you have a ticket.
      • APICS

        Apple controls it's own destiny as far as Production and Inventory Control and Marketing should be able to project demand and have P&IC produce to that model.
        Rationing is done to add to the "Apple Mystique" which is slowly getting to be known as just plain BS.
        Apple makes these in the Third World and China and except for the money coming back to Cupertino does little to help the US Economy with all the billions they siphon off in sales of an imported product. And FYI people have died making the components because China has no OSHA like the US...oh that saves money doesn't it.
        Jesus may have died for your sins but so did Ming because he worked in a factory that made the aluminum cases and aluminum dust is explosive in high concentrations.
        But forget all that Ming had (by Chinese standards) a good job that his Employer and Apple stole from some unemployed American smuck in CA, CO or TX.
        • Talk about BS

      • More Microsoft Marking Hoopla

        Why would anyone want a surface? The fact that you can walk in a store and buy one should tell you something !!! Of course if you working for MS to publishing this dribble, then it makes sense
        • Yeah, it tells me Microsoft is faster and meets demands

          It tells me Microsoft is faster and their products are like bread and water. Everyone of those 310 million people living in the US buy groceries multiple times a week. Those groceries are available because there is demand and that demand is being fulfilled. Apple either lacks demand or resources to fulfill demands.
      • While it's not the best case scenario...

        ...he knew exactly why the process was in place and why you could walk into the MS store to pick up a Surface. I have read enough of his articles to realize he isn't an Apple fan and while he won't flat out lie like a hater he will pretend not to understand the obvious to click bait with a negative spin Apple piece. Of course he also neglects to mention that even if his wife would have been able to walk out with the Mini it wouldn't have had the engraving that she ordered. Also, why is your wife taking your daughter to buy her own Christmas present, no surprise there.
    • Another New Zealander waiting impatiently..

      I've also ordered a couple of Surfaces from the States as Aus appeared to be out of stock and wouldn't ship to me directly.. or at least the MS store wouldn't.. so I'm drop shipping a couple and a nice blue touch keyboard/cover.. really wanted pink but it was out of stock everywhere! Mine should be here any day now! It looks like MS have stock again of the surface as there isn't a wait time listed on their website.

      Sometimes being in NZ I feel like I'm in a third world country! There's still no indication of when I can get a Nokia Lumia 920! I have wallet in hand and no one wants to sell me one!

      • Lol

        Malcolm, it's me, Rob. X-D
  • Not all apple stores are like that

    I bought my iPad 3 at the Apple Store, 2 weeks or so after it was released, spur of the moment and all I had to do was give them a credit card and sign. Took it home the same day. I'm not sure if it was the store you were at or the timing (right before the holidays), but it doesn't always happen like that.
    • ...

      I bought mine the day after it was released. Drove 2 hours, walked in, 10 minutes later I walked out with the iPad and a battery for my Mac. No waiting, even though the store was typically crowded (wall to wall humanity). The Apple guy greeted me at the door. He even skipped his lunch to take care of my order. The only thing that seemed to bother him was that he didn't have what I was looking for within seconds of walking in. He couldn't do enough to get my request fulfilled.

      Cook thanked the kid that helped me out. Probably made his *life.*

      I don't suppose Balmer would ever bother to look up from browsing internet porn to do something like that.
      • WTF?

        Why do Apple users value sales people with the attitude and approach of car salesmen? I find it creepy and a total turn-off.
        • Pardon me but

          I've never experienced that. Have you experienced that?
        • Applekids attitude ( the " Genius Bar " especially. Cf. Genus Bore ).

          Please.... that's what you get when your recruit tekkies instead of trekkies. I am going back to the private sector, Tekserve, instead of the Papple stores. I used them years ago, and would rather deal with fellow humans. Just call me an anti-alien racist. The people in those glass cages are not from this planet.
          • I never had that experience

            At the Mall of America in Minneapolis, the people who work in that store have always been professional and genuinely nice. There are many things I dislike about Apple, their over-priced products, the dismissal of anything they didn't build themselves, of most of the Apple fanboys (really fanboys of any technology) who make up excuses out of thin-air to cover for their product's short-comings and are eager to point out every failing of some other technology. Not, the people at the store were always nice.

            I have purchased hardware (oh, sorry, devices) from Microsoft, Amazon and Apple.

            The Microsoft people are fairly knowledgeable but their in-store selection is just as limited as Apple's. But Microsoft Store PCs have the advantage of having no crapware and being setup correctly. For example, a Sony Ultrabook they have their gives you about 80 gigs of user space (from 128G SSD) while basically the same one at Best Buy gives you only 55G of storage space.

            Amazon doesn't have a store (unless you count Best Buy as their showroom), but if you call them, they are nice and clueless. They don't know anything about their products. even the Fire. They only know how to read of their web site. But they have very good value for what you get, so shrug it off and take the discount.

            Apple have the most knowledgeable people, mostly because the people who work their are zealots. They work a ton of hours for very low pay. They don't even get much of a discount for Apple products. Apple expects people to line up to work their and scramble for food (they are the most profitable company in the world because they limit what they spend on low-level help). I try to remember that these people work for basically nothing and are always smiling.
            A Gray
          • Twin City Stores - Apple

            I like the RidgeDale Mall Edina - Apple Store.
            Always less traffic - higher end staff - always stuff in stock.
            I can wheel in my MacPro in its special travel case -
            have tech do analysis while I go shopping, get a coffee,
            come back when they text me - ready to go home.

            When a new product comes out - they have line out into the rotunda 100 deep.
            No Problem - walk right through into the store to get a new case - etc.
            The staff have device on them to scan CCard, and off you go, receipt in your email.

            These other no product stories much be typical of Europe where it's just a hole in the wall.
            Like BestBuy or T-Mobile extension seller. Just a handful of product.

            Apple Stores here display everything they make - with warehouse in the back. It's always worth the drive.
            I've been to the ones in Sweden, maybe 3 devices.
          • Even easier than the staff with CC scanners is

            the Apple Store app. Allows you to purchase products by scanning the bar code with your iPhone and paying via your iTunes account. No need to even talk to the staff, scan, purchase, leave.
          • Low level for Apple

            but they get paid on average higher than other retail employees.