Will the iPad replace the Air?

A trip to an Apple Store in New York City very nearly leads Mr. Fully Equipped to buy an iPad--against all better judgment. Part two of a three-part saga.

Note: You can read part one of this article here .

For those of you who didn't read part one of this little tale, I was recently in an Apple store in New York looking for the new, updated MacBook Pro units and toying with the idea of buying an iPad, when I was approached by one of Apple's friendly and knowledgeable sales people, who asked me whether I needed any help finding what I was looking for.

The countdown begins. Apple

After conversing with her for a few minutes and having a frank discussion about some of the product's shortcomings, including its overheating issues , I found myself ready to take possession of Apple's "magical" new slate despite my reluctance to buy first-generation products . I wrote how she'd sold me with her zen-like anti-sell and I realized that "a thousand iPad ads seared into my retinas had taken their toll and worn me down. I was a beaten man, ready to submit."

But alas, there were no iPads to be had, and when we last left off, I was in the MacBook section of the store, filling out an online form to reserve a 32GB iPad, feeling disappointed yet relieved that I'd been temporarily released from the iPad's gravitational pull.

As I filled in my iTunes account name and password to generate the request, I actually thought the white entry-level $999 Macbook I was writing on looked better than I remembered it looking (somehow when you're in an Apple store, the products just have an added glow to them, a halo effect if you will).

"Do you have the new, upgraded MacBook Pros?" I asked, suddenly having an urge to pick up a laptop instead of an iPad.

Maybe the fact that there were no iPads in stock at this particular store was a sign from God for me to buy another product instead. I did have a $300 Apple gift card burning a hole in my pocket along with two $25 Netgear rebate cards I got after buying a couple of 16-port Ethernet switches earlier in the year. I was looking at a $350 discount on whatever I bought! I don't know if that thinking beat my friend rationalizing that he was just fine with buying an iPad because he was essentially getting it for free. Why? Because he owned the company's stock and it had gone up so much. With every iPad people bought, including his, the stock kept going up, he told me, so he was getting his iPad for "like free."

"The new MacBooks are coming in within a few hours," she said. "But they look exactly like the old 15- and 17-inch models."

"Just with faster processors?"

"Right."

"And what about the 13-incher? Why didn't they update that? I like that size."

"They did. Just not with the Core i5 or Core i7."

She showed me the specs on Apple's Web site. The takeaway was that I was getting more for the same price. That seemed to be Apple's M.O. these days. It was sticking with the same designs--or just tweaking them a bit--but adding memory, faster processors, and better graphics chips.

"What about the Air?" I remarked, thinking about going smaller and lighter. "That seems due for an upgrade or a price reduction."

"I don't think you'll see that," she said to my surprise. "The iPad is replacing the Air."

"Really?" I hadn't gotten Apple's announcement on that.

"The iPad does everything the Air does," she went, "so there isn't much of a reason for the Air to continue."

The opinion was clearly hers, not Apple's, but she spoke with such conviction I felt it must be based in some sort of fact--or perhaps she was just hanging around too many geniuses at the Genius Bar downstairs.

"Except run a real computer OS like OS X," I pointed out.

"OK, except for that. But I tell people they shouldn't buy the Air as their primary computer. It's a secondary computer, more for traveling."

Like a second house. You just picked it up for weekends.

"It would help if they made it a little cheaper," I said.

"Well, we have the iPad now. That's a lot cheaper."

Excellent point. That's why I wanted one. Because Apple didn't make the smaller, lighter, $899 10-inch MacBook Air that I really wanted. In a bit of momentary delirium, I thought it would be cool if Apple would make a People's Choice product. They'd put a few concepts up on the Apple site, have people vote for a month, and the winner would get produced. Of course, to vote, you'd have to preorder the product. But who wouldn't?

"OK, you're set," she said, seeing that the iPad request form I'd submitted had received a confirmation reply. "You'll get an e-mail soon. We should be getting a new shipment within the next couple of days."

"Once it comes in, how long do I have to pick it up?"

"Twenty-four hours. But if you need more time, you can change your reservation."

How wonderfully accommodating. Now I knew why my friend was buying free iPads with his Apple stock he hadn't sold yet. These guys were good.

"What happens if I don't pick it when I'm supposed to?" I asked.

Someone else will take it, she assured me, then taunted me a little with: "We've been selling the 16 and 32GB ones pretty much as soon as they come in the store."

"So probably Thursday?" I said.

"Maybe sooner."

She turned out to be right. As I was in the middle of writing this I got an e-mail from Apple, congratulating me on my iPad's arrival.

"The iPad you've been waiting for has arrived, and it's ready for you to pick up. When you come in, we'll have specialists ready to help you set up your iPad so you can start enjoying it right away. We can't wait to see you at the store."

My reservation would expire in 25 hours. I was on the clock.

Part 3: " Blinded by the iPad "

 

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