iPad 2 Release Day in Nashua, NH

It's another one of those days again. A very exciting day for those who love to bask in the warm glow of Apple's latest piece of hardware. I had told everyone that I wasn't going to upgrade, instead waiting for the release of HP's WebOS tablet this summer, but the thought of having last years hardware was just too hard to bear. After collapsing under the unstoppable and overwhelming mental forces of early adopter syndrome, I quickly made my decision: a 64GB white WiFi iPad 2 with a black leather smart cover was in my future. Boom. 

What was unique about this particular product's launch was both the availability and the timing. For the original iPad, you could place your order online and receive the product on release day. Also, it was only available from Apple. With iPad 2 there were no pre-orders for release day delivery. Instead of a morning launch, it was a 5PM launch, and instead of just Apple stores carrying it, Best Buy, Walmart, Target, Verizon, and AT&T stores had them as well. I would have preferred to have it delivered rather than wait in line, but that wasn't a release day option. Lame.

I rolled into the Pheasant Lane Mall in Nashua a little after 1PM to check out the state of things. In Target, a few employees were milling around the electronics section cutting up little strips of paper with various iPad models written on them. They were allowing a line to form starting at 2, handing out the papers first-come-first-serve so everyone was guaranteed a particular model to purchase at 5PM. They were all hush hush on how many of each model they had in stock, but did concede that they had one of every SKU, including the 64GB white WiFi model. So then I wandered down to the Apple store, only to find a ridiculous line 100+ deep.

Front of the line at ~1:30PM, 3/11/11 at the Nashua Apple store.
Approximately 100 people deep. Check out the guy first in line, chillaxing bro. 

Well, that's not going to happen. As a risk reduction strategy, I hopped back into my car and took off to the Target in a much less accessible location - Amherst Street. See, the Apple store and Target in the mall are super close to the border, so you get a huge influx of Massachusetts folk looking to escape taxation. By going to a store further away, I figured I would have a much better chance of them still having the model I want once in line. Welp, I was wrong. They had a total of 10 in stock, 5 of the 16GB WiFi devices in black and another 5 of the 32GB WiFi devices in white. By the time I got back to the original Target, a line had formed. It was all of 5 people deep, and I received my very official looking reservation slip. #winning

I immediately got in trouble with Target security for taking pictures, but only with my very obvious T2i. In line I met a gent who was buying the first of many iPads for use at his company to help technicians with the assembly of medical cables. He was all pumped up about these folks FaceTime-ing with their counterparts in China to work through issues on the floor. It sounded like a great idea; this is going to be a really great device for enterprise use. I also met (er, re-met) @Tu13es in line, while we passed the next 3 hours making Galaxy Tab jokes and trying to figure out how we were going to get smart covers (this Target had none in stock). This particular store received a mix of 30 devices and had a line significantly longer than 30 people. The last ones to go, ironically enough, were the 64GB white WiFi devices. 


At about 10 of 5, a security guard appeared rolling out a giant cage with a few stacks of iPads secured inside. Watching them open that thing was like watching the opening scene in Jurassic Park.


No more than 5 minutes after 5PM, it was my turn at the register. Upon surrendering my super official ticket, I was presented with a delightful new toy and a significantly less delightful bill. And during my purchase, I snagged a sneaky photo of the cage.

During checkout, the cashier asked me if I was an Apple employee. Apparently all the Target staff thought I was, and were all very confused with why I was there. I thought it was hilariously ridiculous, but then I realized that I was dressed exactly like an Apple store employee (complete with an Apple shirt from Cupertino), was on an iPhone the whole time, and had a hefty DSLR strapped to my body. I don't mind being a super fanboy for these types of events though; apparently I'm playing the part well. 

All in all it was very successful. The wait was reasonable, I had the device 5 minutes after it was publicly launched, I didn't get robbed in the parking lot, and I got to tell the cashier that I was here to pick up my Samsung Galaxy Tab. 

As I was driving home, the clouds parted, ending the dreary, rainy day. I then did what any reasonable person would do in that situatino; I had a sexy sunset iPad photo shoot. First impressions on the device itself to come later.