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I went to an Apple store and all I heard was bad news

It started with wanting to take a look at the iPhone 14. But then I discovered Apple stores aren't what they used to be.
Written by Chris Matyszczyk, Contributing Writer
iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max on a table.

That black is very pretty. If you can find one.

Jason Hiner/ZDNET

I'm actually quite emotional.

So when I heard the bad news, I had to do something.

You see, Bloomberg had reported that Apple wouldn't increase production of the iPhone 14 -- yes, all of the iPhone 14 models -- because demand wasn't quite what the company had hoped.

So I immediately hot-footed it to an Apple store to see what was going on. Would there be screams of anguish and rending of blue T-shirts? Would there be a gnashing of teeth and a crumpling of faces?

Also: I made a huge Apple Watch mistake

I sometimes go to Apple stores soon after they open, in the hopes that there'll be fewer people and more attention from salespeople.

There I was, then, at 10:02 on a weekday morning, expecting to find a vast open space.

Instead, there were at least 30 customers inside.

What was going on? Why were these people here? What was wrong with them? Hadn't they slept? Hadn't they heard?

What have we got? We've got bad news

I wandered in and slid my way toward one of the two iPhone 14 tables. I picked up the iPhone 14 Pro, which, the very best experts say, is a substantive improvement on any predecessor.

I picked up a Space Black one. With its less shiny back, it felt slightly easier to hold than my iPhone 12. Especially as I'd rather eat maggot pie than buy an iPhone case.

Oddly, no Apple store salesperson came over to talk me into the latest little machine. Instead, an elderly couple was being helped at the same table. They didn't need to be sold.

"I want an iPhone 14," said the woman, unprompted. "And he'll get the same."

"What color would you like?" asked the Apple saleswoman.

Also: I went to an Apple store and saw the saddest employee in the world 

"Who cares?" replied the customer. Then she turned to her husband and said: "You're always losing yours, so the color's not really important, is it?"

At this, I giggled.

At my giggle, the woman pointed at me and said: "And he's paying for it."

I giggled again, apologized for my intrusion, and couldn't help but comment on the state of her current case. She giggled.

But still no Apple salesperson came over. So I tried to see what the Dynamic Island looked like. (Like a cutely stretched notch.)

Also: I had a nightmare about Apple's iPhone 14 Dynamic Island (so I contacted Apple) 

Next, another customer came to the table, accompanied by an Apple salesman.

He could only offer her bad news: "Yeah, we don't have any right now. We were hoping for a shipment in the next couple of hours, but we never actually know if and when it's really going to arrive."

She wanted a 512GB model in Space Black. The salesman replied that it looked like they had them at two other stores. Each was around 20 miles away.

But what if you go all that way and they've sold out and don't know when their next shipment will be?

I wasn't seeing a lack of demand for these phones -- or for anything other than the Apple Watch. That table was totally empty. The rest, somewhat buzzing.

Also: I put the Apple Watch Ultra through the Tough Mudder. Here's how it held up 

I needed some Air

So, distraught at being ignored, I moved over the MacBook Air table. I've been hemming, hawing, and gnawing about whether to get a Midnight M2 MacBook Air.

I played around with it for a while. I even went onto Amazon's site and saw it was $100 cheaper there than in the Apple store.

Still no salesperson thought me worthy of a chat. Two were standing feet away chatting to each other.

If they'd had a 1TB midnight M2 Air in stock, I'd have bought it right then. But, given the bad news I'd been hearing elsewhere about the possibly-maybe delivery, I suspected they wouldn't.

Also: Apple's new M2 MacBook Air. Why I hate myself for wanting it

So what could I do but go back to the iPhone table? This time a different customer was being told her chosen deep-purple iPhone 14 Pro wasn't in stock there. But a store, yes, 20 miles away had them.

"Or, if you order on our website, you could get it by, let's see, October 4," said the salesman.

Tell me something good

This was northern California. Not for a moment would I suggest it's representative of the rest of America -- or even any other part of California. Or, frankly, anywhere but perhaps certain parts of Austin, Texas.

But it seemed as if the Apple store had turned into the Bad News Bears emporium. 

If you don't care about color -- or, indeed, if you don't care about the iPhone variant you want -- this store might have had something for you.

Also: Which iPhone is right for you and how do different models compare? 

If you were looking to be sold, however, I fear this wasn't the day. And I fear this has happened on quite a few days to quite a few people of late.

Does this signify a lack of demand? Or might it suggest a lack of perfect demand planning on Apple's part?

Yes, the iPhone 14 doesn't look radically different from my iPhone 12, though the camera bumps seem far larger. But I was willing to be sold, willing to at least listen to upgraded, upgrading reasoning.

Instead, I spent 24 minutes in the store, and not a selling soul approached.

I may be emotional, but I wasn't hurt.

Well, maybe a little. It's not as if I'm demanding, is it?

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