Didn't see that one coming! The iPad mini 2 is on sale now, with no warning.
Like an upside down thief in the night, Apple stealthily started putting the new iPad mini on shelves this week.
Well, not literally on shelves – it was a case of sidling up to blue t-shirted wearing 'Geniuses' in stores and asking them if they had any stock, like some sort of blue-chip drug deal where you want to spend a large amount of money for a small score.
Considering last year's iPad mini saw waits of 4-6 weeks when it went on sale, on the surface seeing the new mini in store and available online looks good.
Apple says it's "working hard to get the iPad mini into customers' hands". Well thank you Apple! Thanks for working hard to get us to hand over a small fortune to make your profits even greater.
Well done, Tim Cook, merry Christmas. I bet you'll be able to afford a turkey with all the trimmings now. And even a three bird roast!
It's a bit of an unusual move for Apple - but it seems to be managing supply levels a bit better. Getting loads of pre-orders out of the way means there'll be more stock in stores when that happens.
Everyone's a winner. But I'm suspicious here - it means Apple loses out on the whole launch day queue thing. So the question is, why not do it this way all the time?
Air today, gone tomorrow
I'll tell you why - because Cupertino's concerned alright. They're worried that there won't be as much demand for the mini as hoped. And how do we know this? One word: Air!
The iPad Air, magnificent machine that it is, hasn't set the sales world alight. Go into any Apple store and from day one, you've been able to get one. No queue here.
Well, there is - but only because I can never find any damn person to serve me in an Apple shop. That's the real frustration. Apple loves queues. It gets them publicity. A queue fail is a marketing fail. And this one's got a capital F!
Which leads me to the whole spin issue. Rumours of screen supply shortages? If that hasn't been leaked by Apple or people working on its behalf, I'll eat my hat!
Create fears of demand, you'll get the crowds frothing at the mouth and ordering online immediately. Release it quietly, you're going to avoid the press turning up to interview them and finding the only person sitting outside the Apple store on mini release day is the hobo who sleeps there most nights.
Then, there's the competition. Other retailers say they hope to have the stock in stores this week too. Fat chance of that since Apple can't seem to manage it.
Nevertheless, by launching it on their own site first and only there, Apple can have a period of exclusivity that doesn't look like its trying to stiff others. Apple genius!
It's a mini drama of its own - but considering that aesthetically, nothing has changed apart from the screen, Apple could do with less of an encore here. And clearly it's trying to avoid one as the curtain rises.
I've reviewed dozens of phones and tablets for TechRadar over the years – each time putting them through their paces in the most unbiased, rigorous way possible. But as well as being a professional, I have a love/hate relationship with tech, and that's what these columns are all about: the passionate howlings of a true fanboy. Tell me why I'm right, wrong or a hopeless idiot in the comments below or by tweeting @techradar or @phillavelle
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