What part of ‘iPad 2 Availability Tracker’ doesn’t Apple understand?

By SteveJack

For multiple iPhone launches, when Apple failed to have adequate supply on hand to satisfy demand, the company had a functional and useful “iPhone Availability Tracker” online for iPhone hunters.

Obviously, iPad 2 demand is far outstripping supply, so where is the “iPad 2 Availability Tracker?”

Hello, Apple?

I only ask because it would be logical to have provided such a tool already and because Apple’s own retail employees probably have better things to do than answer, “No, sorry, we don’t know when we’ll be getting another batch in” all day long to phone callers asking, “Do you have iPad 2 in stock?”

I just called five U.S. Apple Retail Stores (east coast, west coast, north, south, and one right in the middle of the country) and asked if they had iPad 2 units in stock. Of course the answer was no, but I also asked if they were getting a lot of iPad 2 availability phone calls. Each employee said, basically, “You don’t know the half of it.” Each employee also seemed to be straining to sound helpful and cheerful, considering they had probably been asked the question hundreds of times already today.

Does Apple enjoy torturing their retail employees and potential customers for no good reason? It sure seems like it.

One would hazard a guess that the code for the tracker exists, still tied into the retail stores’ inventory system, and that it would be rather trivial to turn it back on for iPad 2, right?

For reference, Apple’s availability tracker looked like this:

iPad 2 Availability Tracker

Maybe Apple doesn’t want to put up red squares for every store, but at least they’d be giving customers some useful information while also giving their own retail employees a break from repetitive and totally unnecessary phone calls.

Come on, Apple, get on the ball!

SteveJack is a long-time Macintosh user, web designer, multimedia producer and a regular contributor to the MacDailyNews Opinion section.

69 Comments

  1. And Steve Jack is jumping the gun on this one.

    The restless consumer should chill and not jump like a jumping jack at every whim. Who says instant gratification is a born, on demand privilege?

    1. It’s not about instant gratification-it’s about consideration for their customers and employees who get sick and tired of answering the same question 1000 times a day.

  2. Absolutely!

    I’m sick of being lied to by Apple employees who “don’t know if they’re getting a shipment in” when they damn well DO know.

    Somehow they knew they weren’t getting any in today (when it now appears that they are getting some in but aren’t selling them until tomorrow), but “didn’t know” on Saturday if they were getting any in. They knew, but just couldn’t come out and be honest with the faithful customers waiting outside.

    You botched this Apple. Now make amends for your legions of customers.

    1. World ends today if this guy has to wait another minute for an electronic gadget.

      I swear, some people do not have patience anymore. we live in a “now!” world… If I have to wait 2 minutes I’m going to be mad.
      Calm down, you’ll get your iPad when one is available to you.

    2. Ahh, the sounds of desperation! What “amends” would you suggest, rsbell, and how did Apple “botch” it? I’m sure that Apple distributed as many iPad 2 units as they could for the launch. You could have gotten in line a day early, like some other overly enthusiastic folks.

      Take a lesson from breeze and chill. You can order online and wait, or you can keep visiting the Apple Store and other retail locations chasing the elusive iPad 2 snipe. Either way, it is likely that you will have to wait for at least several weeks.

      1. No, the frustrating part of this situation is that Apple should have seen this coming and made the Ipad2 more readily available at launch. I believe they are using their customer base as a publicity stunt and wouldn’t be a bit surprised if there were pallets and pallets of IPADs sitting in warehouses across the country. Its simple, people standing in lines for something generates press. If you could simply walk in and purchase one, it doesn’t matter how many are sold, it wouldn’t seem like a big deal. Go get in line y’all, Steve Job’s sends his love.

      1. No, you’re missing the point.

        It’s not about me waiting and coming up empty-handed. I just want to be told the truth by the employees. If there is a shipment coming in, say there is. If there isn’t, then save me and others from waiting around for nothing.

        Just be truthful, that’s all.

        1. The problem is the employees do NOT know if a shipment is coming. People controlling the shipments are going to move supply around as they see fit. A shipment may be slated for your store then it gets moved to another location. Please go cry somewhere else. After a while, it gets rather pathetic.

        2. No, rsbell, it is you that is missing the point.

          You have two choices:
          1) Order online, and get an iPad 2 as soon as it is available.
          2) Camp outside a store and wait until a shipment arrives.

          The store doesn’t want to tell you when they are going to receive a shipment because they know, based on past experience, that they will disappear as fast as they receive them. They also know. based on past experience, that what comes after “when are you getting a shipment?” is “Hold one for me!”. NO!

          1. There are valid points for each side in this discussion. However, castigating Rsbell is as infantile as you are making him/her to be for not waiting and making demands.
            Since Apple has a history of tracking iPhone availability and the demand is very high for the iPad2 it would make sense and as pointed out decrease calls and harassment from frantic iPad addicts.
            My own experience on release date was as expected leaving empty handed after standing in line for an hour. While I knew that the line would be long and was a long shot to get one, especially since I was well past the people that had tickets. However, on release day they should be able to tell you roughly how many they have and how many people are in front of you which the employees that I spoke with had no clue of either how many they had or how many people were in line. Yes, there were people counting the numbers waiting in line, so that info was available. Telling customers on release date after opening roughly how many there were would not pose a risk for theft since they will all be sold and those waiting in the hinterlands of the line can happily go on their way. Instead, it really seemed odd that nobody knew what was going on. My overall impression was that the iPad 2 release should be smoother than the previous iPad and iPhone and it doesn’t appear to be the case. I also think that Steve Jobs and Apple create such a hype for a product it is not surprising for people to want/desire/crave one. P.S. I can wait.

          2. The point is that you do not launch a product until you can support the launch. I think Apple just blew it with hype and with poor planning. I’m sure someone’s head is rolling at corporate Apple with this poor planning. I have been in Supply Chain Logistics for years and this one was a disaster. Imagine how many customers Apple may have lost to the other Pad manufactures due to lack of inventory. Yes, there are many who will not wait….. Poor products or not.

    3. Chill rsbell! We still have to wait two weeks here in Europe… Already pre-sold my iP1 and iCal’ed to be at my nearest Apple Store 25.03.2011@LaunchTime -3
      BTW, wouldn’t Moto, Samsung, RIM, Microsoft, etc… like to have THIS problem!
      BLOODBATH!

    4. I spent several years as an ICS (Inventory Control Specialist) at Apple stores. I can tell you first-hand that those employees probably aren’t lying to you. There are two main reasons for this:

      – For new releases, the shipments literally come so fast that we never knew what items would be coming in the next day. The express shipments moved so quickly that they wouldn’t show up on our receiving screens until the day they were due to arrive. It wasn’t uncommon to have them delivered in the mornings before we even had time to log in and see what was due to arrive.

      – Inbound shipments, particularly of new-release or hot items, are the kind of information that is really a need-to-know basis only. The ICS team will usually know that morning, and the managers will know (often because the ICS tells them). Beyond that, the information isn’t spread to the rest of the team, so the people answering the phones genuinely don’t know what’s due in. Spreading that kind of information around in advance of a shipment makes you a target for theft and other issues, so it’s smart to keep it confidential. Oh, and the people who know are usually too busy receiving the product to be on the phones anyway. Asking for their attention would just delay getting the shipment received.

      So, get off your high horse. It’s not a conspiracy against you. Those people truly don’t know, and often won’t until they show up at the door.

    5. The store level employees DO NOT know when they are receiving inventory. Sometimes, they can see certain SKUs ‘in-transit’, but have not idea what the delivery window is. Often, high demand items, like iPad2, are dropped shipped and don’t show in the AS400 based inventory system until they arrive.

      More, what Apple employee wants to tell a customer, “Yes, we will get 300 tomorrow”, and they they don’t show up. How pissed would that customer be?

      Even more, if an employee did tell a customer that iPads would arrive later today or tomorrow, they would need to be prepared for the customer to ask another 40 questions about exactly when, and how many, and what models, and… most of all… can you hold one for me (because I’m so much more special than everyone else who wants one.)

      C’mon rsbell – don’t beat up employees in a retail environment that you don’t understand. And, if you really feel Apple ‘botched this’ and needs to ‘make amends’, then why don’t you sign up for some silly class-action suit that will surely start out of California, because the ‘entitled generation’ doesn’t like to be told ‘no’ or ‘we don’t know’.

    6. I worked in a Apple Store for years and I can’t even begin to explain how much of an idiot you sound like.

      Retail employees are given out info on a need to know and aren’t permitted to guess or speculate as to the arrival of shipments or new products. This prevents customers for having their expectations incorrectly set and then whining like infants when it doesn’t work out for whatever reason.

      And judging from the tone of your post, you are exactly the kind of person these rules were designed for.

    7. Apple created this fiasco by offering the iPad2 with very little stock. They did this willingly and intentially. They have done this in the past with other devices. Eventually it will backfire on them. Everyone understands this, except fanboys.

  3. I think ordinarily speaking Steve Jack would be right. But these are not ordinary times. Apple has been hit by a double whammy of unexpectedly insatiable demand for the iPad 2 and events happening in Japan acting as supply brakes.

    Even if Apple had modeled a best case scenario of doubling up on initial demand of iPad 1, that would only account for 600,000 units. It’s a perfect storm of high consumer demand and supply constraint.

    This is one case where building up adequate stocks wasn’t an option as Apple had to head off multiple threats of Android, webOS and the Playbook. Better to launch somewhat early and deflate demand for competiting products than wait a while longer and let your competitors fill your niche.

    I think Apple took the lessons of the delayed Verizon launch to heart and launched a preemptive surgical strike against the Taliban grouping of Xoom, Touchpad, Playbook & Galaxy Tab.

  4. With Breeze on this! These things take time to roll out. SteveJack is really becoming a spoilt child with these posts!

    @rsbell
    They don’t give dates because if it gets delayed then they don’t have people coming in and getting pissed at apple. They probably have an estimate time of arrival, assuming everything is perfectly on schedule, no more.

  5. I agree such a tracker would be nice. However, if Apple has not deployed when they have with such launches in the past, don’t you think there’s likely a very good reason?

    My problem with many of SteveJack’s oped pieces of late are that they are far too full of unsubstantiated assumptions. As a result they bear far too close a resemblance to the hit-whore pieces from other tech writers whom MDN mercilessly rips apart. At the end of the day, this makes you guys look quite hypocritical…

    Just sayin’

  6. The worst part about the lack of info is that it forces Apple Store employees to make things up. They’ll just say “No more today,” and then another batch shows up. Leaves the customer with only one thing to do: go to the Apple Store.

    Wait, that might be part of Apple’s strategy, which would be a bad one (get customers into the store and they’ll buy something else).

  7. SteveJack,
    Let me save you some time:
    The iPad2 is currently unavailable. Not anywhere.
    There are none to be had.
    You must wait 3 to 4 weeks to get one.
    I suggest you get yours ordered before it goes to 4 to 5 weeks or greater.
    Repeat: There are none available.
    There is no need to track “Unavailable”.

  8. What a bunch of whiners. Tracking would require every outlet to be updated after every sale to be accurate. You really think every Best Buy, WalMart, etc. would do that? And even if they could, by the time you drove over to wherever there wouldn’t be a guarantee that the situation changed. I don’t think you can reserve over the phone. Just get out the tent and camp out.

  9. I was/am as excited as the next Apple fan to see the rollout of the iPad 2. Right now, though, I don’t care if they put an availability tracker out there or not. I’d like to see someone publish a red-cross station/fresh water and food/current missing-persons list/temporary shelter availability tracker for the people of Japan.

  10. Yes, it would be helpful to know when I can get one, but folks need to chill. Your world won’t end because you can’t get the latest on Day One.

    Me, I’m content to let others experience any problems with the first production run (yellow screens anyone?). In another month or so I’ll walk in without the lines and get just the model I want, not the one that’s available.

  11. Whiners! Because of you guys, the rest of the world will probably have to wait another 4-6 weeks to get the iPad 2, because Apple will re-allot inventory from non-US markets to ease pent-up US demand.

    OR….

    Apple really did manufacture all of the iPad 2’s they could ( if the stories about low processor yields and supply constrains of certain components are to be believed) and they simply really did sell them as fast as they could make them.

    To those here who say that Apple is artificially creating shortages to stoke demand, I say: idiots.

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