iPad launch day: Where are all the sell-outs?

iPad launch day is quite a fiasco. Apple Stores around the country see eager customers line up hours or even days ahead of the tablet’s release, and people often wait hours before they finally make it into the store to purchase an iPad — if there are any left. While there was still plenty of hype surrounding this year’s launch, it didn’t quite seem the same. Apple’s new iPad is a big upgrade compared to the previous model, featuring a faster dual-core A5X processor with quad-core graphics, an upgraded 5-megapixel camera, optional embedded 4G LTE, a slightly redesigned case and a gorgeous better-than-1080p HD Retina Display. But launch day still seemed much more subdued than it was for the release of the original iPad and the iPad 2. Read on for more.

BGR called a dozen Apple Stores in and around New York City between 5:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. EDT on Friday in order to find out whether or not they still had the new iPad in stock. In years past, checks like these were fielded by apologetic sales associates breaking the news that launch-day inventory had been completely depleted. This year, however, we didn’t find a single store in the New York area that reported a complete stock-out.

Of the 12 Apple Store we spoke with, each and every one still had iPad Wi-Fi inventory available, with just four stores saying that 64GB models were sold out in both black and white. Most stores reported having a significant number of units still in stock and several said they would likely still have inventory tomorrow. “We have plenty left,” one sales representative replied when asked if there would likely be any units remaining later this evening. “Take your time.”

Four stores reported being completely out of iPad Wi-Fi + 4G models, and five more said they were out of the AT&T version of Apple’s new tablet but still had the Verizon Wireless model in stock.

When we asked if there were still people waiting on line for iPads, we were told by a representative at the Grand Central Apple Store that there was indeed still a 30-minute line for new iPads. The only other store to mention a line was in New Jersey, and the sales associate chuckled as she reported, “Yeah, there’s three people on line right now.”

A number of Apple’s retail partners received launch-day iPad inventory as well, and we called a handful of Best Buy locations to see if the story would change at all. We still didn’t speak to a single location that reported a stock-out, however. Workers at three Best Buy stores said that all or most models were still in stock and a fourth said that AT&T models were completely depleted but “plenty” of 16GB and 32GB Verizon models were still available. A salesperson at Best Buy Columbus Circle in Manhattan reported that the iPad has been “flying off the shelves,” but he said that all Wi-Fi models and both Wi-Fi + 4G models were still in stock when we called shortly after 6:15 p.m.

At the time of this writing, the real-time iPad tracker set up by Chitika indicated that Apple’s new iPad accounted for just over 2.1% of iPad traffic across its network.

Apple stated earlier this week that pre-orders were sold out and demand for the new iPad was “off the charts.” Did the majority of day-one iPad buyers pre-order their tablets online this year? Did Apple finally manage to build more than enough tablets to meet demand? Or is the new iPad just not resolutionary enough to warrant the turn-out we have seen in years past? We won’t know for sure until Monday when, or if, Apple shares launch-weekend sales figures. In the meantime, if you want a new iPad and you haven’t yet picked one up, odds seem pretty good that you can still find one fairly easily if New York area availability is any indication.

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