Picture the scene: You stroll into the office Friday morning toting a new iPad, casually showing off its Retina display and 4G capabilities, while boasting about how you got it eight hours ahead of all those nerds in line at the Apple Store.
If you live near a 24-hour Walmart, and don’t mind staying up until midnight, that could be you. Alternatively, if you live in New York City, you can head down to the 24-hour Best Buy in Union Square — though again, you’ll have to wait until midnight.
In an unusual move, the two big box retailers are getting the jump on the Apple Store by selling the new iPad at 12:01am local time on March 16, the day the third-generation iPad goes on sale. Apple Stores across the U.S. will be releasing their iPads to lines of eager customers at 8am local time. (Stores in Australia, 17 hours ahead of the U.S., are already selling them.)
Along with the Apple Store, AT&T, Verizon, Target and Radio Shack stores will all start selling the new iPad Friday. Best Buy stores that aren’t in Union Square will start selling the tablets at 10 a.m.; some Best Buys will start handing out tickets for the iPad at 8 a.m.
What isn’t known is how Walmart got away with stealing the Apple Store’s thunder. The famously controlling tech company seldom allows others to sell its products first, so we’re wondering what kind of backroom deal happened here — or whether Bentonville is currently experiencing the wrath of Tim Cook.