Verizon’s iPad launch: Is this the right party?
It’s become a time-honored tradition: Start selling an Apple gadget and brace for the throngs of eager consumers.
For Verizon Wireless, the big day was Thursday, as the nation’s largest wireless carrier for the first time began to sell the sleek iPad tablet PC.
But by the looks of the store in downtown San Francisco that Reuters happened upon on Thursday morning, things were clearly not following the traditional script.
Red, white and black balloons were on-hand, and staffers were standing by the door ready for action. There was even complimentary coffee set up on a little table inside the store.
The only missing ingredient was customers – there was no queue of folks outside the store, nor evidence of any potential iPad buyers inside the store, which had the gloomy feel of a balloon-festooned ghost town.
Then again, the iPad has been available for months through a variety of other channels, including Apple’s own retail stores, Best Buy stores and even WalMart and Target stores.
A Verizon staffer at the store would not say whether the balloons and coffee were brought out specifically for the iPad launch, or whether the store had expected a bigger turnout, maintaining that the staff was under orders not to talk to the press.
Of course, Verizon has more than 2,000 stores across the U.S., so the scene may be more lively at some of the wireless carrier’s other locations. And it’s possible that the balloons were inflated in honor of San Francisco’s participation in the World Series (The SF Giants orange and black colors are sort of similar to the Verizon red and black colors).
Verizon is selling the iPad bundled with a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot that allows the device to work on the Verizon network, and many technology industry observers have speculated that the Verizon iPad could presage a forthcoming Verizon iPhone (which would end the iPhone’s exclusive multi-year run in the U.S. on the rival AT&T network).
A Verizon spokesperson reached by phone said that the company was very pleased with sales on Thursday. “We set some very realistic objectives and we are very comfortable and confident that we’ll meet them,” the spokesperson said.