Friday, July 23, 2010

Apple games

I don’t know if Apple Computer (through it’s authorised distributor, Renaissance) thought it was being clever or if they were just colossally inept, but the launch of the iPad in New Zealand was just plain stupid. Whichever it was, someone ought to be sacked over it.

They announced the iPad would go on sale today, but their partner, Vodafone New Zealand had no details on pricing for the 3G version. Vodafone finally announced pricing yesterday—just a day ahead of the start of authorised sales.

Apple/Renaissance refused to say where, precisely, their iPads would be sold. No store would confirm if they’d be selling the product (or not), not even Magnum Mac, which is the closest thing New Zealand has to an Apple Store (it’s owned by Renaissance).

If one rang around to the stores that typically might carry iPads, one got only cagey responses, even yesterday evening. “We don’t know,’ they’d say, as if we’d believe that was actually true mere hours ahead of official release. One store clerk, perhaps feeling a little exasperated after having to lie to so many customers, allowed, “Well, we don’t know. But if you were to guess, you might try X at 9am”.

What on earth was the point of this evasiveness ordered by Apple/Renaissance? Is it because there are too few iPads in New Zealand to meet demand? If so, that was a stupid way to get people to avoid going to likely sellers—they went anyway.

One retailer opened an hour earlier than normal (discovered slyly), and that’s how Nigel got an iPad. No thanks to Apple/Renaissance, whose demand for secrecy meant there was a need for persistent detective work and playing a hunch.

And, a good point for companies like Apple/Renaissance to remember: It is perfectly legal in New Zealand for companies to parallel import items (except for DVD movies and CDs—long story, DON’T get me started!!). This means that companies can bring in “unauthorised” products through unofficial channels, meaning they’re genuine, but the official manufacturer or distributor hasn’t released them for sale here. Typically, this means bringing in products from the US, Asia or Europe. These products often don’t have manufacturer’s warranties, but NZ’s Consumer Guarantees Act still applies, and that’s often far better than a manufacturer’s warranty, anyway.

So, iPads have actually been in New Zealand unofficially for awhile now, and today’s just the official release. I mention this because part of what drives the parallel import market in New Zealand is official distributors plays silly games, as Apple/Renaissance did.

Still, all’s well that ends well, I guess. No thanks to Apple/Renaissance, though.

Update 27/07/10: Apple is playing the exact same game with the NZ release of their iPhone 4—they're refusing to say who will be carrying them. Yawn! This game is already boring.


epilonious said...

Apple thanks you for the free advertising.

Despite the rant, I now know that I can get an official iPad in New Zealand from Renaissance. And that there is nothing wrong with the actual device, just that getting it may be hard so if I see one in the wild I should drop all consideration and demand that the the customer sales rep shut up and take my money.

Now I ask: Do you have a bigger idea why Apple likes to play silly games?

Arthur Schenck said...

Apple's never thanked me for anything, and Renaissance has been the in my crosshairs many times (deservedly so).

BTW, you can't get any Apple products directly from Renaissance—they're merely the authorised distributor, kinda like a master franchisee. They do have a retail "chain", but the products are in plenty of other stores (and often cheaper elsewhere), stores all New Zealanders would know. I deliberately avoided naming them in case Apple/Renaissance retaliates.

I have no idea why Apple plays games. They have the reputation for being the most secretive tech company there is, and I think sometimes that's just part of a deliberate plan to build and maintain mystique.

In this case, they pissed off customers for no good reason. The customer experience wasn't "yay Apple for bringing me this cool product!" it was more like, "Ha! I got my iPad in SPITE of that friggin' Apple!" I doubt that the lost goodwill will be directed at Renaissance, though—Apple will probably cop it. Tough.