Journey > Destination

Friday, March 03 2006

I’ve been doing an informal study of Apple’s current distribution model for their new MacBook Pro machines by calling my local stores every day and asking a couple of questions. At first I was just interested in replacing my current, two machine, setup with a single capable machine, but now I’m getting more sucked into the game of just trying to get one, period.

Granted this is all anecdotal, but it’s interesting to try and unravel a sort of mysterious thing. So here’s my data gathering routine, done every day for the past ten days:

I call each store and ask:

  • Do you have MacBook Pro laptops of any variation?

  • If no, Did you have any come in today?

  • If yes, How many?

  • Where am I on the waiting list?
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    Based on the answers I’m getting it seems that Apple is only shipping out about 2 laptops a day to each of the five stores in the Portland area that are likely to have them. Some days they get none. The downtown Portland Apple store is getting more per day, usually at least three.

    So, in the ten or so days that they’ve actually been shipping, a total of five retails stores that serve a population of 3.4M (one that’s arguably more likely to buy Macs than Windows machines) has had a total of about 100 laptops to sell. I find that sort of disproportional and discouraging, but there are two other tidbits that increase my discouragement.

    First, there is absolutely no shortage of the Intel Mac Minis that were announced just a few days ago. Most stores would only say “we have plenty” when asked, but one of the local stores said they had over 250 for sale of both variations, and that they were moving like “flapjacks” (I assume he was being clever, if not so up on the breakfast food as metaphor terminology).

    Also discouraging – out of the three Apple retail stores in the area, you can only be on a waiting list at one of the three, and you can only sign up for one of the three possible variations of laptop. Somehow I got signed up on the “Ultimate” list, which is the fastest of the machines with the 7200rpm hard drive. A fine machine I’m sure, but when I signed up I said “I’ll take the first one you get in stock of any variety”. I learned about being on the “Ultimate” list just the other day, and as it turns out I’m number two on that list. Had I been on any of the other lists, I’d be writing this post from a MacBook Pro today (well, probably not considering I’d have no fuel for my flames).

    I appreciate good marketing tactics, and I see this for what it is. It’s either scarcity by design or by coincidence, but in either case when I’m in the whirlpool of supply and demand I feel uncomfortable. It’s entirely my fault, for sure, but part of me just wants to be able to have Apple work like the well oiled machine I believe it is. They announce a product, I go to the store, I buy it. I’d much prefer that than spend over a month trying to convince myself I can do without a faster, more portable, machine, only to fight back, break down and call the Apple store, again.