Turning tricks

The iPad 2’s out tomorrow in the UK. The headlines: it’s faster, it’s flatter and it has front and back cameras so that you can Facetime on it. That’s about it.

To be fair it had me at faster and flatter. Faster’s always good. Flatter is even better; Apple did a brilliant job of disguising the fact that the iPad has a filthy great bulge in the back. It basically used the same trick that stage magicians use to make you think that you’re looking at an ordinary table when in fact it has a secret compartment that can conceal a lot of a lady, if you want it to look like you’re cutting her in half. It’s really very clever; your eyes don’t want to believe that the iPad isn’t as thin as it looks at the edges, but all you have to do is try using it on a flat table and then watch it wobble. Alternatively, get a pair of callipers and measure it. Really nicely done, there.

The camera thing, I’m not too worried about. I’m not one of the Facetime core demographic. I will never make a video call of my own volition. But I’m sure people will find interesting uses for the cameras. I reckon you could probably use them to craft a virtual Theremin app. Just throwing that idea out there for free.

Last year, of course, I did that thing where I made a point of not queuing up and instead swanned in later in the morning and nabbed one with the minimum of fuss. This time round, thanks to Apple’s latest piece of fuckheadedness, that option’s not open to me.

Seriously, this new bit of sleight of hand makes me wonder if Apple’s seeing just how far it can push its luck, and how much shit its (let’s not mince words here) fan base will take. If you want to order it online you’ll have to wait stay up until 1AM, and then you’re not likely to get delivery for another couple of weeks. So you’ll have to go to an Apple store.

Except, the iPad 2 isn’t going on sale until 5PM tomorrow. The rumour going round is that it’s because supplies are really low. I’m not sure I see the connection. I don’t think there is one. iPad 2 stocks might be low – only Apple knows for sure, and you can be sure that Apple isn’t saying – and thanks to that very possibility there’ll be queues tomorrow. Hell, even if there was a gold-plated promise of abundant iPad 2 supplies tomorrow, there’d be queues tomorrow. That’s your Apple fan base for you.

The point is that there’ll be queues tomorrow, no matter what time the damn thing goes on sale. And with another high-profile tech launch also going on, in the form of Nintendo’s 3DS, Apple needs to guarantee its place on the news. What better way than queues all day followed by a dirty great scrum in time for a live early evening news broadcast? Which also explains the reluctance to service online orders in a timely manner – people ordering stuff for delivery don’t tend to queue up when the news cameras are present.

Cynical? Me? Yeah, a bit. I won’t be playing along, though. My plan is to wait until Saturday and, depending on what I’ve heard and whether I feel like it, I might walk into town in the morning and see about getting one. And if they really have sold out then guess what, Apple?

I can honestly wait. Perhaps until iPad 3. So there.

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