iPad 3 Launch Experience

I’m in New Orleans for a few days and, long story short, although I pre-ordered the New iPad it’s arriving to an address I won’t be at for a while, so since I was up early this morning thought I’d go to the nearest Apple store in Metairie and see if I could pick one up, or at least be part of the excitement that always accompanies Apple launch mornings.

The store had opened at 8, but I arrived at about 8:55, and the scene was not at all what I expected. There was a crowd outside the Apple store, but it was of blue-shirt employees, I walked up and said I was there for a 64GB white AT&T iPad, the fellow handed me a card, and 5 minutes later I was checked out. No line, no waits, no anything! Here’s a picture of the front of the store, at 9:20am.

Line at Apple Store

The woman who checked me out said there had been a bit of a line that morning at 8, but just about 20-30 people and she thought that most people didn’t know they were opening at 8 that morning instead of the normal 10.

I walked back outside and grabbed a water bottle from the big pallet they had of them (for the expected line) and a Verizon employee accosted me to show ask if I had gotten AT&T or Verizon. When I replied “AT&T” he said “oh man!” and showed me the speed tests he was getting on his iPad 2 tethered via wifi to a Droid device he had, an impressive 20mbps down. “Think how fast it’d be going direct to an iPad.” (I agree, but I already have a Verizon Nexus device, a T-Mobile Blackberry, a Sprint iPhone, so I wanted to complete the quartet with another carrier and ensure I could have coverage anywhere.) I decided to celebrate with some beignets across the food court from Cafe Du Monde:

Celebratory Breakfast

So why the lack of a line? Perhaps it was mix up about store opening time, as they suggested. Maybe New Orleans is a Samsung town. Perhaps Apple just did a better job with the pre-orders arriving on launch day, so people didn’t feel the need to go to the store. Maybe people weren’t as excited as I was about the new launch. All in all, it doesn’t matter to me. The screen is gorgeous, it’s restoring now from iCloud backup, and I’m pleased as punch to have one on launch day and I’ll probably spend far too much time today staring at the amazingly high resolution. If you were waiting because you thought the stores might be crazy today, maybe head to them half an hour after open time and skip the queues.

32 thoughts on “iPad 3 Launch Experience

  1. The irony is that people will be lining up for hours when they could have just driven to a store like this and walked straight in. Is there not an app for that? Gap in the market…

  2. My hunch is that the pre-orders kept a lot of folks home. I was in line at Best Buy a year ago when there were no pre-orders for the iPad 2, but I was happy to relax and wait for the FedEx guy this year.

    Though now that I see you’ve got beignets I’m jealous. 🙂

      1. AT&T said they were “working with Apple to bring that feature to customers”, which means, “working with Apple to figure out how to charge extra for a hotspot, again.”

  3. Hi Matt, I had the exact same experience. I went to my Apple store here in Michigan this morning at 9:00 AM and there was no line and maybe about 30-40 people in the store, which is hardly none considering the Apple store takes up about 3 retail spaces in the mall.

    The new iPad is definitely gorgeous huh : )

  4. I can tell you New Orleans (well all of south Louisiana) is more AT&T than Verizon. This is a great account of what went on this morning.

    In Baton Rouge, there were a lot more people outside of the Mall of Louisiana Apple Store.

    I bet everyone went to Best Buy down the street.

  5. Its really surprising I would have expected there to be some pretty big lines. It was very busy at the Apple store in Covent Garden, London but I suppose its expected with the big stores.

  6. Sigh~ Malaysia is not in the list of countries that would get the new iPad first.. Don’t know when it’ll be launched in Malaysia~ 🙁

  7. Hi Matt,

    Although I live in NYC, I also happened to be in New Orleans during iPad launch day last year and took two buses to get to Metarie.

    It was an entirely different scene.

    First, the launch was in the afternoon at 3:00 PM local time. Second, there were no deliveries of pre-orders on launch day. The only way to get an iPad 2 on launch day was to get in line.

    They exhausted their stock of 3G iPads within an hour. Glad to see you had a better experience: beignets and all.


  8. i thought the lack of lines is because apple don’t allow in store pickup for preorders this year… the lines here were quite mellow too (in Melbourne).

  9. Had much the same experience at Smith Haven mall Long Island NY. A bunch of blue shirts, and out with a new apple tv in a flash. I preordered the iPad 3 and it arrived by 10am at my door.

  10. I went to Target at 8am. Maybe 10 guys. Wasn’t a problem, but less than 1 mile away the Best Buy had about 30 people in line and the store wasn’t opening for two hours.

    The pre-orders probably helped a great deal – everyone i knew that was getting them pre-ordered.

    Matt – don’t forget to grab a new Apple TV! 🙂

    1. I went to Target at 8am. Maybe 10 guys. Wasn’t a problem, but less than 1 mile away the Best Buy had about 30 people in line and the store wasn’t opening for two hours.

  11. I got to our local Best Buy half an hour before opening at 10 and there were just a handful of people waiting. A rep started handing out inventory sheets with our orders so when the doors opened we just walked up to the counter and finished the transaction. I was on my way back home to my restore by 10:15. The resolution IS awesome. And I’m excited about the camera, since I’m upgrading from the original “old” iPad from less than two years ago!

  12. I’m in New Orleans too because I live here! I also headed out earlier than usual to buy the new IPad and went to Best Buy because I anticipated a very large crowd at the Apple store. I think there were a total of 15 people and like you, I was out in no time at all! Interestingly, I was one of only two women waiting. Great experience and now I’m looking forward to my day winding down a bit so I can explore my new find!!

  13. I’m in Berkeley and somehow didn’t get the word. So this is the first I’ve heard of the launch.

    The first post-Steve launch? Not trolling; I’m intensely curious how Apple adapts to not-Steve.

  14. I think you buried the lede here: To sum up, you now have an EXTRA iPad 3 that could be better loved by another owner… /justsayin

  15. My iPad 3 – Apple Store Observations: Went to the mall yesterday to catch a movie with my kiddo (out at 5pm CT-Frisco, TX). As we walked past the Apple store I thought I would get my son’s questions answered about the difference between the iPad 2 & 3. We met a Blue Shirt at the door, he answered the questions and we proceeded in to take a look (window shopping today). As we were doing so he nicely reminded us, “If you are going to purchase an iPad 3 today, you will have to get in line.” That was really funny because 1) I did not notice a detectable line when we approached the store and 2) once he pointed it out I would have had a 10-15 minute wait to buy (just a guess) because there were 3 people waiting. I suppose there were only 1 or 2 sales people who could actually be working the iPad if there was a line with 3 people in it. In fact there were more Blue shirts at the door than people in line to buy the iPad. Pre-sales must have kept the lines low this time around.

  16. In Los Angeles, people were lining up in front of the stores the day/night before and slept over on the street. One guy was selling his spot in the line for $500 on Friday morning. Nobody bought it, lol.

    I pre-ordered mine. Now following its trip from China. It went back in time… shipped from Hong Kong on March 18 and arrived to Anchorage, AK at March 17 🙂

  17. This was actually the first time I never waited in line the first day for a launch of an apple product. I ended up waiting until Sunday to purchase my new iPad 3, and called around a bit to see if it was actually in stock.

    Low and behind, only Walmart and target stores were sold out in the Chicago burbs. I ended up picking mine up at best buy, where they had my 32gb 4g AT&T. It was the last of that type but they still had plenty 64 and a few 16gb.

    Pretty amazing considering last years lines were just insane, no comparison to this year!

  18. Funnily enough, I went the *next day* to get one, and they were sold out of the one I wanted (black, 32g, Verizon). The Apple store was mayhem inside. I then went to a Verizon store around the corner, also sold out. I called another Apple store, also sold out, then called a third Apple store and they had one, so I went there, walked in, picked one up and was out the door in 5 minutes flat.

  19. Matt –
    You can use an AT&T micro-SIM card with iPad 4G service in a Verizon iPad 3, but can’t do vice-versa.

    And furthermore, when I put my AT&T SIM in my Verizon iPad3, not only is there ZERO steps to get it to work (it just works), Tethering is an available option.

    That’s awesome for an unlimited data customer like me on AT&T wireless who also has a Verizon LTE SIM from a work MiFi device that I can switch between.

  20. First you eat your beignets (with your hands….)
    Be carefull don’t touch your new iPad with your dirty hands.

  21. I can’t help but question the speed at which companies are releasing new hardware. Do you realize your new purchase was obsolete by the time you unpacked it?

  22. Hey Matt,

    How are u enjoying ur new ipad? I went with the AT&T bc you can use a sim card internationally and have internet while in a taxi, which came in quite useful in the streets of Panama City, Panama.

    Hope all is well =)