I am pleased that Apple is implementing a sensible approach to marketing the ever-so-scarse iPad Mini. I have always hated the system where those who queue outside Apple Stores are given preference to customers who ordered early from the on-line Apple Store. Products should be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis without giving latecomers (including, it has to be said, a large number of grey marketeers) the chance to jump the line.
The launch of the Mini Retina has been different. Store stock is available only to who make an on-line reservation, thus cutting out the queues, some of the disappointment and helping spike the guns of the grey market. Ed Dale believes this new approach is part of the “soft release” of the iPad Mini Retina:
By soft releasing the iPad Mini Retina, Apple achieved three crucial things: 1) Apple’s biggest fans got theirs first. Who knew about this first? The people who follow the Apple blogs and digerati. Judging by Twitter, this worked perfectly. 2) The grey market queuing for the iPad Mini Retina was going to be immense. By going online the incredibly poor optics (The front of Apple lines, which attracts a lot of media, was full of people who were not fans but paid to be there) are mitigated. 3) The last thing Apple wants is 100’s of customers turning up everyday to be disappointed in a store which is meant to be a happy place – Apple does not want their stores to be associated with disappointment and frustration!
I am sure he is right. But I would like to see Apple go one further. Why not combine the in-store reservations system with the wider Apple on-line store? Allow early birds to both order a Mini online and specify a store for delivery. That would keep everyone happy and would avoid disappointment and hassles at the store. It would certainly prevent early-orderers such as me from feeling disgruntled as others jump the queue.