One of my missions for this trip to New York was to buy an iPad as a surprise birthday present for my wife. It wasn't because of the price, as I had an idea that it was slightly more expensive in the US, with tax and all. It was just that I believed it would be less of a hassle buying it in New York.
But it turned out that I was wrong. One afternoon, I went to the state-of-the-art Apple Store at Fifth Avenue and found lots of shoppers there. I got hold of a shop assistant and asked him about availability. He said there was no stock, handed me a card and told me that the best thing to do was to call the number after twelve midnight everyday to see if there was a new shipment for the next day. If there was, I would have to get to the shop very early.
"Sale begins at 8 am," he said. "But people get here and queue up once they find out that there is a new stock. So if you get here at 8, you probably wouldn't have a chance."
I took the card, thanked the shop assistant for his advice and left. I was thinking, "Forget it!" There was no way I would queue up outside an Apple store in the middle of the night for an iPad. But I have to give Apple my applaud for its sales ploy. There is no doubt that this latest generation of iPad is much sought-after, but I am sure that they have also been cleverly manipulating the supply so that there are always people queuing outside their stores waiting to soak up what small number of units they mete out.
Only I wasn't prepared to be one of them.