So I had a spare couple of minutes today, and I stepped into Apple’s luxe storefront in SoHo to check out the new 17-inch Powerbook. Apparently, words south of Houston Street don’t mean the same thing as they do elsewhere.
When you walk into the store, you’re likely to see a sign that says “17-inch Powerbook. In stock now.” Given the highly restricted supply of the machines (the Apple web site cites a 3-to-5 week delivery interval), this was something of a surprise.
I cruised over the Powerbook table, which was full of 12-inchers and 15-inchers. No 17s. I found a salescritter and asked if they had any on display. He led me over to the front window, where there was a 17-inch model on a turntable.
“Would you like to buy one?” he asked prematurely, as he reached to take the computer off its pedestal and put it on a nearby counter. “Well, I’d certainly like to take a look at it first,” I said, lowering the immense screen to its latched position.
The salesman moved the screen away from my hand. “Doesn’t that hinge have a great feel to it?”
“Can’t tell. Let me take a look, will you?” I pressed the power switch a couple of times. Nothing. I latched the screen and picked up the unit and turned it over, finding that there was no battery installed. It was impossible to tell the unit’s true weight, or what the screen looked like in action, two important points for a machine that makes a big deal out of its portablility and screen real estate. I did notice that the closed lid did not meet the bottom of the unit uniformly across the width of the unit.
“So would you like one?” the salesman asked again.
“Are they in stock?”
“Yes they are. I’d be happy to put you on the list.”
“So they’re not in stock.”
“Yes they are. We have a list of 300 people waiting to get theirs.”
“There’s a waiting list? So they aren’t in stock.”
“Yes, they’re in stock,” he said. “But they go out to people who have already ordered them.”
“Oh. How long would I have to wait before I can come get my ‘in stock’ laptop?”
He shrugged. “No way of telling. Probably a couple or three weeks.”
At Apple, “in stock” does not appear to mean Give Us Money And We Give You Goods. I kind of wonder what “in stock” means to the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs…