Thursday, 23 October 2014

That iPad Air 2 can be yours -- today, even

The iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini won't have lines like this, for the iPhone 6 in San Francisco. James Martin/CNET
Say goodbye to long lines for the newest iPads.
There's no official retail launch date for Apple's newest tablets, the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3, which means people won't be lining up for days. Instead, the devices will be available in stores as soon as their shipments arrive from Apple, some as early as Wednesday.
People who ordered the tablets online starting last Friday should receive their new iPads as fast as their packages ship. Most models of the iPad Air 2 are available to ship in two to four business days from the Apple Store online.
This will mark the first iPad launch that Apple hasn't specified a specific date -- and attracted long lines. When asked about the rollout, an Apple spokeswoman reiterated that the iPads are available this week.
Already, New Yorkers can nab the Wi-Fi versions of the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 at all stores in Manhattan, including the flagship Fifth Avenue store. The cellular model is not yet available at those locations. A sales representative at the downtown San Francisco store said the iPad Air 2 should be available in the next day or two, and other Bay Area locations -- including San Francisco's other stores, Palo Alto and Menlo Park -- also should have the tablets in the coming days.
Other cities that already have the Wi-Fi version of the iPad Air 2 include Austin, Boston, Chicago, Miami, Philadelphia and Washington, DC. West Coast cities -- including San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle -- typically appeared to be later on the list of tablet supply.
Apple product launches have become something of a spectacle. Consumers line up for days -- or even weeks, in the case of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus -- to get their hands on the newest gadgets. Making the devices available on a sort of rolling basis is a different move for Apple. The company has tended to release its major new iPhones and iPads on Fridays, about a week after they're announced, and most people assumed that's when the new iPads also would hit stores. Apple executives, when unveiling the tablets last week, simply said they'd be available "later next week."
Apple has done the same type of rollout on occasion in the past. Last year's iPad Mini went on sale as soon as stores received their supply, and Macs typically launch in the same manner.
The rollout likely indicates how much (or more precisely, how little) demand Apple expects for its newest iPads. The updates to this year's products are much more minor than previous releases. The iPad Air 2 is thinner, lighter and has better specs, but the biggest changes come from the addition of the TouchID fingerprint reader and a gold model. The iPad Mini 3 is identical to its predecessor aside from TouchID and an optional gold casing.