Why can't you just buy an iPad mini?

It's a good thing Apple's devices are so simple to use because their buying process is the polar opposite of simple.
Written by Ken Hess, Contributor

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.

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