Steamed. That’s how I’d explain my feelings today as I attempt to get my hands on an iPad 2. The reason for my rant today: Apple’s product focus means customer service is going by the wayside and I think its time someone said something. Wait till you hear about my morning.
First some background: Apple has an apparent blockbuster on their hands with the iPad 2. It would appear that I was not alone in waiting for the second generation product, as each line I’ve been in was filled with geeks and non-geeks waiting in harmony. Today, I witnessed about 100 people who can’t wait to get their hands on one.
I was at the line at an Apple store on Friday. Over 100 people long there too and I was too late to get my hands on one. I foolishly thought the unwashed (read: non-geeks) would snap up the WiFi only leaving the top with plenty of stock. Fat chance.
Then Apple blogs let slip late yesterday that some select stores were opening early today. Sure enough, a phone call to me quasi-local shop produced the same, “yes we’re opening an hour early and no, we can’t comment on if we’ll have iPads in stock.” Fair enough – opening an hour early suggests Apple is getting more iPads out – done deal. I packed up the car and off I went.
So you can imagine my surprise this morning as I lined up with dozens of others who thought we’d keep our excitement on the down low when Apple people came out to the line and made an announcement. “Sorry folks, we don’t have any iPads today.” We were dismissed like the overly-optimistic schoolchildren Apple seems to think we are. No one was happy.
The rage-induced ride home gave me these three points:
1. Why isn’t Apple doing a better job here? No pre-order, no helpful current stock status online (remember, they did this for the first iPhone), no data given to Apple store folks (who I actually feel really sorry for – they take the brunt of the angry mobs sentiments). Apple could easily make this better but for some reason are choosing not to. Even a get-notified when the Store gets some. It sounds like they need an app for this.
2. Where are the scrappy Android players? I’ve waited in lines now for a couple of hours (I was late to the line on Friday, thanks Delta). No where I’ve read nor witnessed was any scrappy retailer handing out Xooms or Samsung TABs to play with while I waited in vain for an iPad? Preaching to the wrong church choir? Perhaps, but don’t think for a minute that some of us would have said, “enough is enough Apple, I am going to give Moto or Sammy some love.” After all, the Android tablets have plenty of stock and no lines – even if those are the only things going for it – it’s a win over Apple.
What a wasted opportunity for some guerilla marketing. Why isn’t this obvious to Motorola or Samsung?
3. This experience is changing my opinion of Apple. The past few days, I’ve been watching the numbers – how many they’ve sold and how many smart covers they’ve profited on (holy cow). They are banking on all of us kicking in. They saw this coming. No matter how great the iPad 2 is, it will be tainted with this sourness. There’s the question of first day-online buyers getting pushed to the back of the line as they get more product to the stores. That doesn’t sound right (though, my local store isn’t getting any apparently…).
Customers shouldn’t get treated like cheese-sniffing mice – which is apparently what we’ve become to Apple.