With obtuse iPad 2 launch, Apple fails to delight 49,000 customers per day

“I just returned from the Apple Store at the Short Hills Mall in New Jersey. I arrived at the mall at 5.20 AM to wait in line for my chance to buy an iPad 2. I was number 27 in line. I did not get one,” Mark Hosbein blogs for We’re Not In Kansas Anymore. “The line went to 81. My wife had been there for the past two days, and both days she was shut out. She was number 39 yesterday, with no luck.”

“For a revered brand, Apple is risking customer will in the way they are managing the iPad launch,” Hosbein writes. “When you call, the stores cannot tell you when or how many they will get in. Even the night before when you call they cannot tell you what they are getting at the store less than ten hours later. If it’s coming from California, they have to know what is coming at that point, but the company is not telling their stores and their stores are simply telling people they don’t know. Does not sound like the operations of a company that makes sophisticated computer products and runs one of the most trafficked websites online, does it?”

MacDailyNews Take: No, it most certainly does not. Please see: What part of ‘iPad 2 Availability Tracker’ doesn’t Apple understand? – March 14, 2011

Hosbein continues, “By the calculation of someone in our line today, Apple sells 14,000 iPads a day through their stores – at that rate about 3.3 million a year. What they are not counting is the 70 people at each store each day who walk away frustrated. For their 700 stores, that equals 49,000 day. They are frustrating four times as many people as they are delighting. Ouch! If this goes on for a month – and at this rate that is conservative – that will lead to 1.5M frustrated customers.”

Hosbein continues, “This was preventable and manageable if the company thought about the customer experience… The manager this am said to me and the other frustrated customers “that is the policy.” The company that reinvented computing now focusing on policy. Hmmm… We’ll all go buy an iPad. My wife wants to try again on Monday. I am giving up. I will order online. But whether I like the iPad or not when I get it, my feeling toward Apple will never be same. They are big, they follow policy, they are not focused on customers. They make great products, but not happy customers.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We love our users. We try very hard to surprise and delight them, and work our asses off doing it. But we have a blast doing it. What motivates us is for our users to love our products and connect them with great apps and content. When we fall short, we try harder. And when we succeed our users reward us by staying loyal. That’s what drives us.Apple CEO Steve Jobs, July 16, 2010

Well, Steve, you’re currently failing to delight roughly 49,000 people per day, but, hey, at least you’re surprising them with your inexplicabe insistence on needlessly wasting their and your employees’ time. Apple is falling short. Time to try harder.

If you can’t satisfy launch demand (and, let’s face it, when you could ever?), at least make the call to tell Tim Cook to wake up and put the availability tracker back up online, so that your potential customers don’t have to get up at 4am to go stand blindly on lines and so that your retail employees don’t have to answer the same iPad 2 question all damn day long when they could instead be helping people buy Macs, iPods, and iPhones. We got our iPad 2s on Day One, but so many haven’t; you could at least give them some clue where the chances will be best for them to invest their time and energy in the hopes of buying your product!

We don’t normally apply the word incompetence to Apple, but, the way the company is managing (if you can call it that) the iPad 2 launch and, especially, the way they are failing to effectively communicate with customers, not to mention the way they are disappointing customers daily, there is no better way to describe it: Apple’s iPad 2 launch smacks of incompetence.


    1. Thank you, you said it!

      I personally, would rather see apple make thousands of people happy with existing stock, and cause 49000 people a day to salivate over their lucky day with their own, then see Apple sit on however many 10s of thousands they have until they have a larger ( though still insufficient) supply.

      The current method keeps Apple on everyone’s lips 24/7, and will continue to do so all the way up till the iPhone refresh.

      1. Agreed.

        It is only the people who haven’t been able to purchase one yet that would rather have Apple hold off on the launch until they stock pile enough to make sure everyone gets one.

        It would in fact be a logistical nightmare if they actually thought about it. Can you imagine Apple having to stock their stores up front with enough iPads to sell to everyone who wants one right now? It would be impossible.

        1. Btw I just left the Apple store at Penn Square Mall in OKC without the iPad 2 I was hoping for, but I still prefer the possibility of scoring one than the guarantee that they’re still waiting to launch it.

        2. I think you’re missing the point. They aren’t saying hold off stock until you have enough on hand to fill everything. What they are saying is be forthcoming with what stock you do have. Don’t make people wait in line for hours when you know good and well there isn’t anything to sell them.

          Bring back the iPad tracker and problem solved. It’s not that hard Apple.

          1. The tracker didn’t say how many they had in stock, just that they had at least one of that model. If lines are still out the door, then knowing they have at least one isn’t going to help you if you’re not first in line.

          2. Problem solved?

            A tracker doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get an iPad. It just guarantees that Apple will have at least one in stock. It doesn’t guarantee that there won’t be a line of 70 people already waiting for 30 iPads when you arrive at the store.

            1. This way is more like hunting or fishing. Sometimes you sit all day and not even see anything. Sometimes you get a big one. Avid sportsman aren’t calling for fish trackers.

      2. It’s so silly, just order it online and wait for it! That’s the problem these days, everyone expects instant gratification. It’s about the entitled, we deserve it now! We see people at the Apple store that throw an absolute tizzy fit if they ipad isn’t in stock. They scream, “do you know who I am?” and “I am not leaving here without one!” Who do they think they are? Apple is trying its best to fulfill orders but this is an incredibly popular launch. If they stock piled a billion units before the launch we would still be waiting for a launch! Not to mention what they would do with all the stock if they over estimated! The retail chain is a science and you don’t want to blow it the other direction. Someone’s got to pay for all that production folks.

        Just order the damn thing, you had the chance to order it before the 5pm launch. Even if you decided later it’s a whole 4-5 weeks for delivery and unless there’s a natural disaster you’re going to get it in that time period. No worrying, no standing in the cold, no frustration when it’s not there. Would it kill you to be patient? What did your parents tell you when you screamed for an ice cream right now, yeah, you didn’t…

        1. Hi – we were waiting online for one because we were going to auction it off for a school fundraiser this week. not that that makes me any more entitled, but gee, it’s not like I could not live without this, it’s just the lack of information is avoidable if apple had planned better.

    2. This is a bit cheeky … but I’m going to post this link here, at the top, because I think it’s pertinent.

      “… According to reports, factories in China are turning out iPads on a 24-hour basis, and finished units are being flown directly to the United States and trucked to Apple stores. In some cases, the supply chain extends just 24 hours from factory to store. However, according to the AppleInsider Web site, those tablets have not been immediately being sold to customers over the past three days. Instead, the supply delivered to stores on Monday was held so the store staffs could better count their supply of iPads and plan their sales procedures. To account for having no iPads, store managers were told to simply tell potential buyers that no shipment had been received …”


      News and information about Apple Inc’s retail stores

      A “personal, non-profit Web site was originally posted in August, 2003 to support the “Overnighters,” a group of people who camp in front of (ifo) Apple Stores the night before their grand opening. Since the site debuted in August 2003, it’s grown to over 1,900 pages of information on all aspects of Apple’s retail store operation, and consistently receives over 500,000 sessions, one million pageviews and two million hits each month—much more when there are store grand openings.”

    3. Color me a mac fanboy I guess because I can’t see how the tracker would help yet. The tracker is good for knowing who still has supply but right now, every morning, every store has a limited supply that is gone within the hour. So the tracker would show no availability starting at 10:00 in the morning, and then 11:00 at night they would show availability at all stores till an hour after opening and back to none.

      The tracker will be up once they have day to day supply in stores. Till then, get up early any given morning and wait or order online. Alternatively, some partner stores offer waiting lists where you can put your name on a list and get it first come first serve at a local store.

  1. I think that they like the buzz in the media & on the block, but at some point it becomes an annoyance.
    I remember going to a seminar on customer service and satisfaction and people who are displeased with service will tell significantly more people longer about their experience than even someone who is very happy with the service they receive.

    1. I doubt that anyone who ‘complains’ to a friend about waiting outside a store everyday for an iPad is going to create negative buzz for Apple. Quite the opposite, it shows that they have an extremely in demand product.

      On the other hand, the person waiting in line every morning and complaining – they’ll be with one with the negative stigma surrounding them. What kind of masochistic person does that everyday?

      1. Obviously quite a few. Any one of them could have pre-ordered or can go online now.
        BTW- @ Wally World last night they had v1 iPads in stock. Also, AT&T sent me an offer for a 3G v1 for $200 off. Otherwise, iPads are available unless a camera is a BFD.

    1. with new iPad 2 units selling at $1500 and up on eBay, I can see why some would wait in line EVERY day from 3 to 9 am… They could be making $100 an hour, at least!

  2. why does the math sound so screwed up in that entire article.

    And, how would an availability tracker help. It’s a dot that says a store has at least on iPad in stock. When you see a green dot and get to the store and see the line of 80 people your probably just as screwed. Additionally, when you ignore the red dot and head down there first thing in the morning and wait while everyone else is waiting for a dot to turn green, you get your iPad and everyone else doesn’t. An availability tracker on a product as popular as the iPad is useless until inventory is lasting longer than 30 minutes after a shipment arrives.

    1. The math is bad because it assumes that every day there are 49,000 NEW UNIQIUE PEOPLE who are turned away, when the very same article states that people are going back day after day.
      The truth is likely somewhere between zero and 49k.

  3. I don’t get it. Why not order online and just wait? What’s the rush? You’ll get it within maybe two weeks. People lived without iPads for years, now many can’t wait.

    Patience used to a virtue.

    1. That’s what I am doing. Ordered my 64 GB iPad 2 on 3/11 at 3:52 am PDT. It is now being prepared for shipment. I was brought up in a delayed gratification household, so I can hang on for another week. Not a problem.

  4. While I agree the the iPad is an item that people could live without. I think the point of the article is how poorly Apple is handling the launch, not the necessity of the product itself.

    I also would like one and wouldn’t mind standing in line for a couple of hours early one morning, but I don’t want to walk away frustrated or waste my time if it can be avoided.

    It does seem that the shine is starting to come off the Apple in this instance. Are they getting too big to manage things in their usual impeccable fashion?

  5. I feel the criticism is justified and I am surprised Apple didn’t go with the two per person limit policy, at least on launch day.

    From a marketing perspective, Apple could claim they sold x-number of hundred of thousands, but how many i Pad 2 units are in the hands of true users instead of resellers? Indeed, I’m sure it’ll be a nice number but tainted nonetheless.

    1. “I am surprised Apple didn’t go with the two per person limit policy, at least on launch day.”

      I’m surprised that anyone thinks they didn’t. I know it was in effect when I was in line.

    1. There are lines for iPad 2 outside of stores everyday, so at least some units are available. The problem is that, with no availability information, it’s crapshoot and a waste of pretty much everyone’s time.

      1. Even with an online tracker, there is no indication of how many people are standing in line and there is no indication of how many iPads are in stock.

        All a tracker does is increase the belief that you will get an iPad today. In reality, you’re probably still not going to get one unless you were one of the first people to lineup that morning.

        A inventory tracker is useless until supply is lasting most of the day. When supply isn’t lasting longer that 30 minutes after arrival, a tracker is false hope.

      2. My local Apple store ( Monterey Ca.) gets shipments at 6 am. Lines form at about that time. This morning ( and every morning) they sold out in 10 minutes.

        I was in at 9:30 this morning to pick up a cable and spoke to the greeter.

    2. A tracker which listed number of items in stock would be of great service.

      Anything that helps enthusiastic customers avoid standing in line, only to find out hours later that the store KNEW they did not have enough items in stock, is a good thing.

  6. So Mark Hosbein can’t get an iPad 2 and, as a result, his “… feeling toward Apple will never be same.” Well, boo-friggin-hoo.

    Could Apple have handled the launch better? Apparently so. For instance, they could have modeled the iPad 2 after the Xoom and completely eliminated the lines. Or they could have implemented the “iPad 2 Availability Tracker” about which MDN keeps harping. But the fact remains that the majority of the “problem” is that the demand for the iPad 2 is so high that Apple cannot get enough units from its suppliers. The other piece of the problem is really a perception issue – the “instant gratification brigade” in the U.S. feels entitled to an iPad 2 on demand. I’m surprised that they didn’t file a class action suit last year demanding a retroactive modification to the original iPad to add cameras! Seriously, place your order online and relax. A new iPad 2 will arrive at your door in a month or so.

    @MDN – I recommend that you curb the self-righteous, holier than thou attitude. It isn’t as if your domain is without flaws. For instance, the MDN app…?

    1. So, your counter to MDN’s criticism is, you’re not perfect either so suck it?

      I’d better not ever hear any criticism out of you on anything, ever again.

  7. Not that Apple shouldn’t be doing better, but why are people queuing day after day for an iPad 2? I love my original iPad and will no doubt upgrade at some point, but I’m not going to waste hours of my life (repeatedly) to get one with no way of knowing if I will, I’d just order and it will come when it comes. It might be different if I know there were x available, because I might then decide to take the risk and line up, but at the moment it just seems like too much hassle.

  8. Dear Mr. Markhosbein: There is a physical limit to production capacity. I am sure that Apple contracted for all of the production capacity that it could find that met its exacting standards for quality. But even so, there is a limit on how many iPad 2s manufacturers of such high quality can produce in any given period of time. The initial demand for the iPad 2 exceeded all prudent expectations and exhausted that production.

    I am sure that Apple was working with its suppliers to replenish the supply of iPads 2 as quickly as possible. But on the very day of the iPad 2′ launch, there was a little disruption in the country, Japan, where some of Apple’s critical suppliers are located. You may have heard about it: The record setting magnitude 9.0 earthquake, which was followed by an epic tsunami and a resulting nuclear disaster. The Japanese, those self-centered folks, have decided that fighting to prevent a nuclear disaster from becoming a biblical catastrophe; feeding, housing, and clothing their displaced people; caring for the sick and injured, and generally working to recover from their multiple disasters is more important than producing parts for the iPad 2.

    Now, I know how important you are and how essential the iPad 2 is to your existence, but until we can get the Japanese to stop their self-centered focus on survival and once again focus on serving Apple and its oh so important customers, I beseech you to show a little mercy and patient with Apple, which, after it cares for the needs of its own employees in Japan, is working to get you and your wife an iPad 2 as soon as possible.

    1. Chanson: You are spot on. I also see a great deal of people criticizing Apple for the way they are handling the launch. his includes MDN. I however, seem to see a lack of a specific solution. It’s easy to armchair quarterback when you aren’t the parties responsible for deciding how to distribute what limited supply you have of 18 different models to several distributers. The author is a whiner, period.

      1. There is a very easy, no-cost solution that doesn’t require a tracker.

        It’s called inventory control and every retail, “goods” establishment uses it.

        Apple has it… Apple knows how many, what models, and when iPads are being sent to each store. They are, after all, shipping them… they just aren’t using the info to keep their customers informed.

        I this Apple store “policy” of not keeping customers informed is some sort of hold over from how Apple’s corporate culture of secrecy operates in other areas, but it is unnecessary and bad PR.

        Of course, the more cynical will just say that Apple is doing this to generate demand as disappointed potential customers make their way to BB, WM and other retailers to inquire about iPads in stock.

        I prefer to think Apple isn’t that crass.

        1. “Apple has it… Apple knows how many, what models, and when iPads are being sent to each store. They are, after all, shipping them… they just aren’t using the info to keep their customers informed.”

          Totally True….. But Apple does not know how many people are coming there that day, morning, evening, etc. so how many they have means NOTHING.

          If a store has 2 iPads and NO one shows up… They have 2 left. IF another store has 100 and you are the 102 that shows up for an iPad, you get squat.

          Maybe because the store had 100, you waited until lunch and they were out. OH yes, because you saw the stock shrinking fast, you rushed, had a car crash, sued Apple for making you hurry and do something stupid.

          PS. Lets focus people. You cannot get an iPad 2 right now. People in Japan have flooding, no electricity, radiation……….. and Apple is holding back all iPad 2 sales right now. So , what was your problem again???


    2. “The initial demand for the iPad 2 exceeded all prudent expectations and exhausted that production.”

      Wrong. We all knew demand would be high, with analysts stating a million in a month. There is nothing prudent about turning away thousands of people a day without even a wait list spot.

      Sent from my iPad 2.

  9. Oh let me play the worlds smallest violin for you.
    Just order it on-line and get on with your life. I waited outside the best buy on March 11th and got mine.

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