Usually, Apple lets you pre-order their new products. For example, you could pre-order the iPhone 4 to get it delivered to your house on the same day it is available in store. This has always been my preferred method of buying Apple products, as I don’t have the patience to wait for hours in line.
The conspiracy theorist in me has it all figured out, and again, it’s all about marketing and PR. Here is my reasoning…
6 points of sale = 6 times more publicity
The iPad 2 will be for sale in 6 locations (Apple Store, Best Buy, etc…), which is very unusual. Normally, Apple and its partners (AT&T and now Verizon) are the only one to launch a product. But the more stores that sell the iPad 2, the more publicity Apple gets.
At 5pm on a Friday, people won’t mind getting in line
At 5pm on a Friday, pretty much everyone is on weekend, thus available to wait in line for an iPad. I suspect that stores like Walmart, Best Buy, and Target will have a very limited amount of iPads on stock in order to create scarcity, which will turn into free publicity (ie. news headline: iPad 2 sells out in 2 hours at Best Buy).
Huge lines = even more publicity
Apple knows that by starting to sell the iPad 2 at 5pm, this will create gigantic lines at 6 different locations instead of one, if they chose to only sell the iPad at their stores. Again, this is a marketing stunt to generate bigger headlines (ie. Thousands get in line at Best Buy, Target, Apple Store, etc to buy the new iPad 2).
What do you think?