In what has become somewhat of a spectator sport among tech pundits, a good deal of line watching will be done this Friday as the iPad 2 launches to the masses. This time however, it’s going to be a little more difficult to judge just how big the launch of this device iis.
Why? Simple answer: distribution. Demand for the original iPad was pretty simple to gauge because it was only available through the Apple Store and most Best Buy stores at its launch. Thus analysts had a much easier time seeing just how successful of a launch the iPad was.
This time? Not so much. In what is the widest launch of an Apple mobile device outside of the iPod, the iPad will be available across a wide range of retailers on 5pm Friday. In addition to the aforementioned locations, the device will be available at Wal-Mart, Target, and most AT&T and Verizon stores.
Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster is acknowledging this, warning his clients not to judge the product launch by the lengths of the lines at Apple Stores alone. In what seemed a nod to the hub-bub that surrounded the lack of lines for the Verizon launch, Munster said the more expansive distribution this time will make it much harder to judge.
It’s not too hard to believe that the iPad 2 may actually sell at a faster rate than the original. As well as the expanded distribution, all models — both Wi-Fi and 3G — will be available from launch. When the original device launched last year, 3G models did not appear for another month, and were only available on AT&T. In addition, international expansion will come much faster.
So come next Monday when tech prognosticators are busy trying to digest and analyze Apple’s latest launch, keep in mind that it may take a little more work to figure out whether the company’s got another hit on their hands.