March Padness: New iPad goes on sale
Updated: March 29, 2012 3:42PM
March madness with the release of the new iPad in Skokie may not have been as mad as last year’s frenzy, but there were still those early-bird consumers Friday morning who admitted to a spot of daffiness.
The leader of the line that began forming outside the Apple store at Westfield Old Orchard before dawn was Scott Caspall of Evanston. He was there at 4:20 a.m.
“I wanted to get the first iPad,” he said.
The new iPad — don’t make the mistake of calling it iPad 3 in front of those in the know — was to be a birthday present for Caspall’s wife.
Caspall said husband and wife will each have their own iPads now — to go along with a flurry of other Apple products that have become important parts of their and their children’s lives.
Caspall was not the only early riser Friday in Skokie intent on buying the new iPad as a gift.
John Dan of Glenview happily rolled out of the store after 8 a.m. with a new device for his grandchildren.
“They’re teenagers and they have to have their toys,” he said. Dan, soon to be the most popular grandpa in town, said he didn’t tell his grandkids he was buying the new iPad for them.
Scott Mertenlo of Chicago said he thought the Chicago Apple stores would be mobbed Friday, and with little parking there, he decided to take extra time to drive to the Apple store at Old Orchard.
“I remember the way it was last year,” he said, adding that he was upgrading his iPad 2. “I couldn’t get an iPad 2 until weeks after it went on sale. I figured I’d be wiser today and get an early start.”
But the early birders need not have bothered with such extreme effort this time. Unlike last year when lines wound through the mall and into the parking lot for the iPad 2, this latest release generated a more modest line — at least for the first day.
Consumers last year were turned away after lining up because stock ran out. This year, the 60 or so people in line all got in.
Ipads of all models were still available at Skokie’s Apple store well into Friday morning. How long that remained that way remained to be seen.
But long after the store’s extra early opening time of 8 a.m. Friday, there were more employees inside the store than consumers. Many of them were looking over the device for the first time, expressing oohs and aahs over the higher screen resolution. “That screen is riduclous,” said one employee, which meant “good.” Consumers who wanted to see the iPad’s brilliant new screen on display were able to walk right up to the display table.
Still, the new iPad is expected to sell quite well. The upgraded device sold out for first-day delivery online, and some prognosticators expected it to ultimately sell as well or better than the iPad 2.
As usual, Apple pulled out all the stops for launch day, making its 8 a.m. opening a consumer event more than just a sale.
A table with water bottles greeted consumers who lined up along the length of the store. Entering the store meant passing a string of salespeople decked out in their familiar blue Apple uniforms.
And for those who walked away after purchasing a new device, the peppy and exuberant Apple team was there to applaud and whoop it up.
The new iPad’s most impressive improvements over last year’s model include a high definition or “retina” screen, reportedly the best resolution of any tablet; the inclusion of 4G cell service (with a data plan) that will allow users unprecedented speeds in accessing and downloading from the Internet; and a much better camera among several other tweaks. The new iPad maintains the same price as the iPad 2 with the least expensive wifi model starting at $499 and the cellular network-capable models ranging from $629 to $829.
Technology pundits say the improvements for the new iPad are not revolutionary, but they will be enough to keep Apple ahead in the game, which has quickly become populated with more competitors. Whether it’s enough to create the kind of consumer euphoria that went along with last year’s iPad 2 is questionable.
“I bought one last year and I bought one this year and I’ll probably buy one next year,” said Kenneth Marteen of Deerfield. “The previous iPads always have resale value so after I sell the last model, it isn’t all that much to buy a new one. It’s become tradition.”