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Why the iPad sells out in a soft economy

|Includes: Apple Inc. (AAPL)

Eighteen phone calls later, we found a store in the tri-state area that has it in stock. Can’t promise it will still be here when you arrive, said the clerk, they’re going fast, but we were on the road within minutes.

Traffic. Potholes. Tunnels. Highways. Directions. Decisions. Sudden stops. Half-way into our journey, an email vibrates on my smartphone. (Be careful reading this tiny thing when driving, and in the noon-hour glare.) The product is reserved for us at a store location that would have been ten minutes across town from where we started. Too late now. We’re half-way into our journey, and didn’t battle the highways and tunnels with potholes and traffic and a vibrating smartphone, using directions and coming to sudden stops, only to turn back. That isn’t what entrepreneurs do. Odysseus went on for years, (although in fairness there was an extended pit-stop which the book sort of breezes over). And besides, it’s good to have a back-up, in case. We have courage now, we have optimism, there is a fall-back strategy. Bam. (That was a pothole on the road.)

Onward and upward. Down also, as I said, through a hole as deep as a small well. Sideways at times. It’s incredible really that we are still in the same city. Some of the scenery reminds me of in-and-out dreams I’ve had during bouts of insomnia. Strange places. It’s May 1 and the outside temperature on the dashboard reads 91F, with no shade. The traffic feels particularly dense in this weather, and car fumes seem almost like drizzle. I’m tempted to turn on the windshield wiper, but that would be crazy. Another vibration of my handheld indicates that Johnson & Johnson is recalling children’s medicine. This reminds me, watch out for Toyotas on the road. Watch out for Goldman financial products that may come crashing through the car roof, especially if these have the added weight of a Moody’s rating. And speaking of credit ratings, watch out for Greece. But I digress. Narrowly made it through a red light that just turned. It doesn’t take me long to adjust to the local custom.

Needless to say, the product by the time of our arrival had sold out. But this is part of the experience, part of the charm, and we are not concerned (though mildly miffed) because we have a back-up. There is no point to describe the return trip, which is the same in almost every aspect, but for a wrong turn that could have been worse than it proved in the end, and the added dimension of Jack White and his shattered glass acrobatics now on the car stereo. Please, I ask, in a state of sincerity and vulnerability that could break anybody’s heart, let’s change this to something less screeching. And we ride on, westward, back into the city skyline, irritability on the rise.

But as everything does pass, so too this journey ended, and how good it felt to be inside that Apple store at last. There, the staff is friendly and no question is too stupid, the ceilings are tall and the lighting is bright. The floors are clean, the air conditioned, and there is not even a line at the cashier: there is no cashier, for that would be tasteless. If only it didn’t merely take two minutes for one of the sales associates to hand me my iPad, which was waiting as indicated; if only it didn’t take five more to show me accessories I might need; if it hadn’t been about ten seconds to ring me up with an iPhone that sent me an email receipt; I would have stayed for hours without even realizing it.

The product, by the way, is beautiful, and it works. It took less than no effort to instal and to begin using. It really does not take a lot to make a consumer happy. 

Disclosure: No positions.