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iPad launch near San Diego: Apple vs. Best Buy

In the Encinitas-Carlsbad area, the launch of the iPad at two locations was a study in contrasts.

Apple Store in Carlsbad, Calif.
Enthusiastic customers at the Apple Store in Carlsbad. Brooke Crothers

In the San Diego area, Saturday's launch of the iPad at the Apple Store and at a nearby Best Buy could not have been more different.

At mid-morning, the Apple Store in Carlsbad, Calif., was well-stocked with iPads and adorned by lines long enough to snake around the corner of the store into the back parking lot. And the mood was upbeat with the now-familiar applause when a customer emerged with an iPad in hand.

At a nearby Best Buy in Encinitas, Calif.--about a half-mile away--the mood was decidedly different.

With only a handful of customers waiting for the store to open at 10 a.m. PDT, a salesperson emerged just before the doors opened to say: "We have no units in stock," adding that there were a few demo units only.

He went on to explain that customers wanting to purchase an iPad would have to wait until 4 p.m., when a shipment of iPads was expected.

Best Buy
The mood was markedly different at a nearby Best Buy. Brooke Crothers

His prediction proved to be too pessimistic, however. Shipments actually arrived at 1 p.m., and the store quickly sold out of the 16GB iPads. As of 4 p.m., 32GB and 64GB units were still in stock, according to a salesperson.

Ditto for a Best Buy in Yorba Linda, Calif., which is southeast of Los Angeles. Like the Best Buy in Encinitas, it only had a few units in the morning but got a shipment at noon, according to a salesperson. And like the Encinitas Best Buy, the Yorba Linda store was almost sold out of the 16GB models as of 4 p.m. but still had 32GB and 64GB models.

Update at 10 p.m. PDT: Shoppers at the Carlsbad Apple Store offered several reasons for buying an iPad. One teenage boy said apps "explode" on the iPad. A woman who uses desktop computers exclusively for her business said she wanted something mobile since she didn't own a laptop. Another woman viewed the iPad as a more user-friendly, intuitive way for her mother to surf the Web. And a few people said they weren't quite sure how they would use the iPad but were intrigued by its novelty.