[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obW80HDtNE4]YouTube - Woz's Ring[/ame]
The iPad went on sale today at locations throughout the United States, with eager customers waiting in long lines. Employees were told to show up at 7am, and reportedly had to hand in their phones and sign a non-disclosure agreement before going into a special training session. Supplies were reportedly very tight, with many people who had not preordered an iPad leaving empty-handed. However, a festival atmosphere prevailed, and many enthusiasts camped out overnight to be among the first to have an iPad.
At the Valley Fair Mall Apple Store in Santa Clara, California, just about six miles from Apple headquarters in Cupertino, the line formed midday Friday. At about 6pm, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak showed up, taking the fourth position in line. Buyers camped all night in the empty mall, with Apple employees providing Starbucks coffee and water until doors opened at 8am and people streamed in to claim their purchases. Supplies ran out a couple of hours after opening, and even Woz was refused when he tried to put in a pre-order for a friend.
The launch was surrounded by stringent security, at a level that was unusual for even secrecy-obsessed Apple. Pallets of iPads were cordoned off and protected by a 24-hour guard, and not even store managers were given a chance to see or use the new device before the official release time. Apple employees were called in an hour before stores opened to attend a special training where they finally got to get a look at the iPad. Before doing so, though, employees were ordered to surrender their phones and sign a nondisclosure agreement. It's not known what was covered at this meeting, but given that there weren't any last-minute revelations about the iPad, it's safe to assume that this was an internal matter.
Supplies of the new device have been extremely tight. Pre-orders were limited to two a person, and people who ordered iPads for delivery have been told they won't arrive until April 14. Some Apple Specialist locations reported that they had only 20 16GB iPads, with 10 32GBs, and 20 64GBs - the 32GBs are apparently the most popular. Best Buy stores had extremely short supplies, with reports varying from 15 to about 60 per store. Apple resellers were given very strict instructions about what they were allowed to tell customers: "you are only allowed to verbally respond to inquiries from customers about your iPad authorization as follows: 'Yes, [Your Reseller Name] will be authorized to sell the Apple iPad. We are not taking any pre-orders at this time. However, if you'd like, we can take your name and contact information. When [Reseller Name] is prepared to take orders, we will provide you with those details at that time.' You are not to provide Customers with any estimated ship dates or availability dates." So it's very possible that all the secrecy surrounds a serious supply shortage that may continue.
At the Santa Clara store, Woz spent the long night cruising the abandoned mall in his Segway and chatting with others in line. He usually shows up on launch day for iPods and iPhones, handing out doughnuts and camping out, even though Apple would doubtlessly be happy to give him pretty much anything he wanted. "To me, the waiting in line is like reliving the days you waited in line for concert tickets in college," he told the San Jose Mercury News. "Yeah, I could easily arrange to get an iPad in different ways. But I like to do this like everybody else."