TRUMBULL, Conn.-While people in New York City and California camped out in front of Apple stores for a chance to buy the Apple iPad, the best place to pick up one of the hallowed devices may have been at the Best Buy in Trumbull, a small town in Connecticut’s Fairfield County.
By 9 a.m. on April 3, Best Buy employees had handed out only a handful of tickets to people interested in purchasing one of the tablet computers, which are available in WiFi only with capacities of 16GB, 32GB and 64GB for $499, $599 and $699, respectively. Versions of the iPad with 3G cellular service from AT&T go on sale later this month for $629 (16GB), $729 (32GB) and $829 (64GB).
Analyst estimates for units sold vary, but researcher iSuppli expects Apple to see sales of 7.1 million iPads in 2010. The Federal Communications Commission published a complete teardown of the device, whichiFixit details here.
Trumbull resident Greg Dowling, vice president of analytics for consulting firm Semphonic, pulled into the Best Buy parking lot around 9 a.m. and was first of about five people to receive a “pre-sale ticket,” a sort of lottery invoice for consumers to lay claim to a product.
Best Buy didn’t open for an hour, so Dowling waited patiently by his car with his ticket, good for one 64GB model. He was checking his smartphone, an Apple iPhone, of course.
Dowling felt comfortable that he would have no trouble picking up an iPad in town and did not preorder one for that reason. “I come here because I live in Trumbull. Why bother going to [the Apple Store] in Stamford?”
However, he said he was still surprised he didn’t have to wait in a long line, not that he was complaining.
Dowling said he had been a PC user for many years because the computers he used in the industry for work were machines based on the Microsoft Windows operating system.
“I’m not an Apple fanboy, and overzealot or a Mac Nazi, but the ease of use and the simplicity of the interface are probably what drew me to [Mac computers],” Dowling said. “And then as soon as there was an Intel-based chip inside and I could run both Windows and Mac OS on one box, that’s what I did for two years and I haven’t looked back.”
Dowling uses a MacBook for work and an iPod Touch for pleasure. Now he has an iPad with which to play. “Right now, I can’t think of doing anything outside the Apple world when it comes to fixed Web, mobile Web and mobile application integration,” he added.
Why People Want, Dont Want the iPad
Steve Kingsley, who works in IT at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn., said his department ordered three iPad models, including a 3G unit. Today, Kingsley’s interest wasn’t in the iPad, which he shrugged off as a “big iPod Touch.”
“I don’t think I’d buy one,” said Kingsley, a power user. “I’ve got a lot of toys and it doesn’t do what I want it to do. The hard drive’s not big enough. It’s nice for certain people. If I were a musician and I had a lot of sheet music that I’d carry around, I’d put it all on there, put it on my stand and flip through the pages. It’s got its purpose and it’s cute but …”
By the time the doors opened at 10 a.m., only about 10 people walked in, and walk they did. There was no rush, no crush to get to the computer section where the four iPads sat on a modest table in the back of the store.
Once inside the store, Best Buy employees declined to answer questions about the iPad, citing corporate confidentiality rules. One consumer said he was told there were 15 16GB devices, and 10 each for the 32GB and 64GB models.
Best Buy workers declined to confirm this for eWEEK, though one said the iPads arrived early that morning and employees were not instructed on how to use the devices.
Scott Haggerty, who works in financial services, calmly picked up his new 32 GB iPad with his son, Luke. Haggerty, it’s fair to say, is the consummate Apple consumer that Apple CEO Steve Jobs and his executives might drool over.
An Apple stockholder, Haggerty owns Mac computers, an iPod and an iPhone, and uses Apple TV. Moreover, he not only purchased an iPad the day it went on sale but preordered a 3G version of the iPad online.
“I have Mac everything,” Haggerty said, as his son Luke played a game on one of the Best Buy display units. “I’m a big Apple user. Everything they make, I pretty much have it.”
He said he travels a lot and he believed the iPad would be the ideal device to use to surf the Web and consume content in his hotel room, allowing him to leave the more bulky laptop at home.
Like Dowling, Haggerty was surprised there were no long lines for the tablet. “I was expecting to see some tents,” he said.
By 10:30 a.m., a half hour into the sale, Best Buy still had iPads to sell, though staffers declined to say how many they sold or how many were left. How many and for how long is anyone’s guess.
One thing is clear: Trumbull’s Best Buy may be one of the best kept secrets for purchasing Apple products that are high in demand.