The only way to ensure that you have an iPad 2 today is to buy one from one of the many retail outlets. However, all retailers are not treated equally, so I’ll be giving you the run down on the best places to purchase your iPad 2 from.
Your best, hassle-free bet is to pick one up from an Apple Specialist. Here’s why:
The Apple Store –
Apple’s retail stores will have more available supply of iPads than any other retail location you can go to. They’ll also have every single model in every color. Rumor is that the white model maybe hard to find at non-Apple retailers, so if you’re really dying for a white iPad 2 on Friday evening then you’re probably going to have to brave the lines. Don’t worry though, Apple employees will take care of you while you wait and usually provide waiters with water and snacks. If you don’t want a white iPad then you have a lot of better options available. Sure, if you like waiting in line for 2-7 hours to get your hands on the latest Apple products then buying from the Apple Store is the place for you. A lot of people want things now instead of later though. If you’re one of those impatient types then you’ll want to look elsewhere. Only go to the Apple Store if you desperately want white, or desire to join the long waiting lines to feel like you’re part of the celebration.
Best Buy –
Information is a little bit shaky as to how many units Best Buy stores are going to have to offer. In more populated cities you could see as many as 100 units in the store, however in lower populated cities Best Buy is likely only going to be offering 20-40 units. At 4:30PM local time, Best Buy will start handing out iPad tickets to customers waiting in line. If you come a little later and aren’t able to get a ticket at least you don’t have to wait around for an hour only to find out there’s no more iPads in stock. No solid word has been given as to whether they’ll have white iPads along with black, but that doesn’t matter as we already told you that the 16GB Wifi iPad 2 in black is the most solid choice. If it’s on the way home from work and there’s not an Apple Specialist in the area, it may be a good idea to check out Best Buy before getting in line at the Apple Store if you don’t have a Third Party Dealer in your area.
It’s been really hard to gauge just how many units Target and Walmart stores will be getting. I’ve called about ten different Walmarts in the Phoenix area and so far no one has a clue how many iPad 2’s they’re getting or if they’ll even get them in stores by March 11th. Target and Walmart receive shipments at night so they can have shelves stocked and ready to go in the morning when customers start coming through the door. Some reports say that a few Walmart stores already have iPads on display, but I haven’t seen anything like that myself yet. Call ahead and see if they have anything available before making a trip to the store. Walmart/Target is one of the least likely places to have plenty of iPad 2’s in stock on March 11th. Better try somewhere else first before getting desperate.
According to MacRumors.com the iPad 2 is only expected to be available at select Verizon Stores. Not sure which stores are considered to be select, so this is more of another desperation option if you can’t get one anywhere else. AT&T is taking online orders at 1AM PST, and will have units available in stores at 5PM local time. The uncertainty of which stores are going to have units makes these options two of the least appealing for getting an iPad on launch day.
Apple Specialists –
Apple Specialists are Third Party Retail outlets that are licensed to sell Apple products exclusively. The iStore down the street from my house is almost like stepping into an Apple Store. A lot of consumers would rather go straight to the Apple Store instead of hitting up one of the knock-off retail stores that sell genuine Apple products so this makes Apple Specialists a real appealing choice for a quick way to get an iPad. From the info I’ve gathered, Apple Specialists are expecting to receive iPads on Friday morning. If you’re lucky, they may let you reserve one if you call in on Friday morning. You can find these under the radar stores by going to this link and typing in your zip code. Most of these local mom and pop shops are happy to give out information if they’ve got it, so feel free to phone ahead to ask how much stock they have and if they’re taking reservations. Despite not being a real Apple Store, these under the radar local shops are the next best thing and will probably help you avoid the lines and uncertainties of getting an iPad 2 today.
Conclusion: Waiting in line at the Apple Store can be a fun experience. I’ve done it on many product launches and Apple employees always take care of the customers and make you feel like you’re part of a grand event. The only trade-off is that you have to wait in line for hours and that doesn’t particularly appeal to everyone. Our recommendation is to check out an Apple Specialist, as they are most likely to have enough stock to meet demands without having to wait in the long lines.