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The Early Bird Gets The iPad 2 (And Is Insane)

It’s the same every year: pictures of lunatic crowds in the streets, idiots lying on the street in the middle of the day, hordes spending money, looking stupid, and they won’t even remember caring about all this soon. Whether I’m talking about St Patrick’s day or the Apple launch is entirely up to you. Though at least the drinkers got to meet new people.

“The iPad 2 exists!” isn’t just a fact, it’s half the technology headlines of the last week – every single one followed by an advertising feature list dressed up as article text. You mean to say people queued up for hours but then the Apple product sells out? Wow! Will the sun rise tomorrow? You might as well announce that the new product is white and starts with a vowel, which at least introduces an element of mystery because there are five choices. Reporting on a shortage of iProducts is like breaking the “Cigarettes are addictive” story – it’s not only widely known, it’s an essential part of their financial strategy.

Anyone who gets up at 4 am to wait in line for permission to maybe buy a luxury gadget needs to have their money confiscated. There should be a government taskforce reducing the deficit by arriving at Apple stores on launch day with a mugging license and a sack for all the cash. Of course people should be allowed to spend hundreds of pounds on fun toys – that’s what hundreds of pounds are for – but anyone waiting in line before sunrise simply can’t have earned it. If they had they’d be getting ready for work or still doing something fun from the night before.

Anyone with enough raw cash to buy a new iPad, but without the brains to pre-order it, should be disqualified. It’s not a dialysis machine – you will not die if you wait the extra few weeks for delivery, and you’ll save an entire half-day surrounded by human tragedies who’ve managed to turn “having lots of money” into a more humiliating form of public vagrancy. If Ayn Rand had seen these people waving cash at staff who simply didn’t have anything to sell them, she’d have told Atlas to stop being such a pansy and hold that globe exactly where it was. And maybe consider socialism.

The most hilarious part of the week was fistfights breaking out in American queues, as “legitimate” customers attempted to push past people who’d arrived earlier to buy iPads. Which you might recognise as “more legitimate” customers. The latecomers complained that the Chinese people in the queue were only there to buy iPads for resale, which was such a hilariously flawed argument it would be wrong even if they were right. The first problem is that in the US accusing the other side of being wrong and then mentioning their race is an automatic disqualification, even if you’re just accusing Italians of knowing about pizza. The absolute best case result is if you shut up and leave very quietly, you might not be sued into prison.

Another modern misconception is that a rottweiler with a surgically implanted chainsaw is now more of an underdog than Apple. They’ve championed the idea of fighting the evil Microsoft big brother, but when one corporation complains that another is making too much money it isn’t because they think it should be shared out equally. Apple really are an alternative to the bloat and sloth of Microsoft, in that they’re a different but equally bloated rival. We’ve got yearly cash-grabbing updates, basic errors in things like daylight savings time which apparently can’t be fixed even with weeks of work, ridiculous corporate feuds whose only real effect is to prevent paying customers from doing things like using Flash, and the callous crushing of small app developers without any obligation to explain why.

Apple make excellent products. They’re intelligent, they’ve created entirely new markets, and their products are more stylish than anything else out there. But that’s because they know what they can get away with, because they couldn’t get a monopoly in existing products, and because they’re the first company to truly put PR on the same level of importance as actually producing things. So enjoy your shiny new iPad 2 if you like. Just don’t get up early for it.

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