I was having a conversation with my editor today and he brought up an interesting point about the iPad launch tomorrow. The personnel who are supposed to know the iPad cold, have to be able sell it, service it and train new customers on how to use it; have yet to actually see one.
I'm guessing that most Apple Store employees won't actually see the iPad until they walk into the store on Saturday morning just ahead of the big launch. You have to wonder how they'll pull this off. In fact, TUAW reports that the launch has been shrouded in secrecy and the employees are in the dark like the rest of us. I'm imagining it's not very comfortable place to be with a store full of customers awaiting you in less than 24 hours.
Check the Web Site
One way they could familiarize themselves with new device if Apple didn't provide a training device for the stores ahead of time is to watch all of that video on the Apple web site. There is a great tour of all the main functions. If the employees are smart, they'll cram ahead of time by checking the site. By the time they actually get their hands on the iPad on Saturday morning, given their experience working with iPod Touch and the iPhone, they should be able to handle the iPad too.
Why Leave Your Employees On the Hook
I understand that Apple has a pathological need to keep its products a secret, but Steve, dude, this is your sales team. These are the geniuses remember, the folks who are going to open the doors to the masses of iPad-wanting customers. They probably should have been fully briefed ahead of time about, you know, the product. It gets to the point where this level of secrecy really makes little sense, especially when we see the likes of David Pogue and Walt Mossberg writing away about *their* experiences with the iPad. If you let journalists have one, you could at least give one to each of the stores, so your employees understand exactly what they are dealing with here.
Ready or Not, it's Show Time
Whether or not the employees are ready, and they are very likely as excited as we are about seeing this machine and holding it in their hands for the first time, the big show opens tomorrow. Chances are, these employees are not going to know this stuff cold out of the gate, and Apple really has nobody to blame but themselves for that. Secrecy is one thing, but if you want the employees to be genius-level, you have to give them a little lead time with the product. This approach makes little sense and leaves Apple vulnerable to bad press tomorrow, a situation that could easily have been avoided with a little planning, training and forward thinking.
Photo by Matt Buchannan on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.