By Quentin Fottrell
When the first iPad 2 went on sale last Friday, people lined up overnight outside Apple’s flagship store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, and many more around the country. It was a cold night in New York, the wind was howling and it had been raining heavily for most of the previous day.
These queues were repeated all over the country.
It begs the question: is this a magnificent obsession or an unhealthy one? The iPad 2 may have a new case that allows it to open in an instant, and it is beautifully and intuitively designed, but it’s only an upgrade after all.
The iPad 2 is faster, slimmer, lighter. Oh, and it comes in black and white. Many retailers are now sold out, an obvious under-projection by Apple. Or is it?
We always want what we cannot have.
Conspiracy theories aside, expect news of these shortages to help demand of the iPad 2 when it’s released on March 25 in 26 other markets, including Europe and Australia.
The original iPad sold 300,000 in its first day, selling 15 million last year, around 85% of the tablet market. Analysts say the numbers of iPad 2’s sold thus far are likely to be at the upper end of Apple’s 500,000 to 1 million projection.
Alex Scumilov came from Russia and, according to CBS News, was the first out of the Apple store on Fifth Avenue last week and was photographed holding his two iPads 2 aloft like he had won the World Series. In St Louis, Missouri, Shaun Hautly was first with the iPad 2. He took time to mention his business, a social media and video company, to the local media. Quite a few others did the same.
Some of those who bond while standing in line for Apple products refer to each other as “iFriends”. They also choose to queue outside Apple rather than Best Buy or AT&T, which also sell the iPad 2, showing that 100% association with the brand is important. That, and Apple has more stock of its own products.
Scott Sutherland, an analyst with Los Angeles-based Wedbush Securities, admits to being shocked by the queues: “The number of people wanting to pay people to take their spots in line so they don’t have to queue up – that’s crazy. But people are always infatuated with Apple products.”
Now it comes in black and white? What kind of an upgrade is that? Sutherland says, “You want to leave a little bit for the future, right?” There was a smile in his voice.
Of course, if you were to have bought Apple stock instead of their frequently upgraded products, as this eye-popping graph shows, that would be an iPad of a different color. Computer scientist Kyle Conroy’s graph shows how much money you would have made had you purchased stock instead of an Apple product.
With the latter, the media fuels the frenzy. In a counterpunch to iPad 2 critics blogger David Pogue said the appeal of the iPad 2 is more emotional than rational. As is the appeal of real estate, clothing, perfume, shoes, toothpaste, furniture, silver wear, sunglasses and, for that matter, goldfish.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs helped the media set the tone at the official launch when a giant image of the iPad 2 hovered over him in a quasi-biblical manner. If you are a true believer, a lighter and thinner touch-screen computer opens up a whole new world. If you’re not, the iPad 2 is to computers what American Idol is to The Gong Show, a flimsy riff on a kitch classic.
Do you have iPad 2 upgrade overload? Or should we have helped out our queuing iFriends by providing doughnuts and hot coffee?