The $50 iBook Mob: Who’s really to blame?

iBook Stampede

So the much sought after “iBooks for $50” went on sale in Henrico County today. My friend and I were planning a trip there since it would have been a fun deal to get… but thank gawd we didn’t go! If you think “kiasu-ism” only rears its ugly head in Singapore, you really haven’t looked far enough. As reported by TUAW, despite pleas from local officials to stay away, a mob scene erupted as roughly 12,000 hopeful customers started showing up as early as 1:30 am for the 7:00 am sale of about 1,000 iBooks. Just look at the photos and a video of the iBook stampede running while the unfortunate ones got trampled on and returned empty handed. Here are what some of the hopeful buyers experienced (with some of my comments in italics):

Dustin Coppinger, who attended the sale, said he saw an older man get trampled. “An old man in a walker was trampled to the ground. Trampled to the ground… walked all over,” he said.
(What the heck was an old man doing here!?! I know some people bring in their relatives when it’s a “one purchase per person” deal, but this is ridiculous!)

A one-year-old baby almost became a victim. Her father pulled her out of her stroller. “Look at her stroller. Her stroller’s demolished. Look at my stroller,” said Wilson.
(All I can say is DAMN Gina! Some people really start young!!)

Alice Jemerson was one victim who got trampled. “Look at my knees. They ran on top of me. I just starting kicking the people,” she said.
(Kick harder, if you don’t get an iBook, at least you get a Tae-Bo workout!)

A man who had been standing in line since 2 a.m. came to Jemerson’s rescue. Bair Hossai was almost guaranteed to get one of the coveted computers. “I’m not going to leave somebody who’s hurt. It’s not worth it. I could have been in the line, but I’m not going to do it, because it’s not worth it,” Hossai said.
(I sense a disturbance in the force… get me this meddlesome Jedi!)

Ultimately, who’s to blame for this madness? Are the stampeding people to blame? Or should Henrico County be called to the stand? How about Apple for making those damn Kubrick-like iBooks?

While its easy to point the finger at the stampeding folks for bringing this upon themselves, I really don’t get why Henrico officials couldn’t come up with a better way of managing distribution. Simply by holding a lottery, or even a raffle, in order to qualify for an iBook would have been a more peaceful way to go. “Silly rabbits, Trix are for kids!”

UPDATE: It was really Dell’s fault after all! Read on here…

Sidenote: While a stampede might not make for good marketing, it certainly does show the strength of Apple’s branding. While those iBooks have been around a long time (early generation), I can’t imagine seeing the same people lining up for four year old Dell PCs. Apple products tend to hold their value well, while some even appreciate in price especially if it’s something that had a limited run, e.g. G3 Cube, 20th Anniversary Mac, Mac Classic.

2 thoughts on “The $50 iBook Mob: Who’s really to blame?

  1. I don’t know–if there was a sale of, oh, say, 1,000 Dell Inspiron 4000s (ca. 2001) at $50 a piece, I doubt that there will not be a much smaller crowd. Apple’s branding is best indicated by the high prices people are willing to pay–even for 2nd hand stuff on ebay, rather than by incidents such as this.

  2. Let’s have a test where we put out $50 Dell notebooks and $50 iBooks of the same computing power on sale at different venues.. Any sponsors? 😛

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