Monday, March 14, 2011

Morning Brief: State Department spokesman forced to resign over statements; Engadget editorial leaders exit; the iPad 2 sales experience varies depending on store

One week after speaking at an M.I.T. seminar and stating that the government's treatment of accused WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning as “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley resigned.
The Pentagon, which says Manning is not being "abused", also admits that the soldier has been in solitary confinement, forced to sleep nude night after night, and has, until recently, not been able to communicate with the outside world. Amnesty International has said that "the conditions inflicted on Bradley Manning . . . amount to inhumane treatment by the US authorities" and "appear to breach the USA’s human rights obligations."

In a blog post to readers Saturday, Josh Topolsky, editor-in-chief of AOL-owned Engadget, bid his readers adieu. Also leaving Engadget, according to the WSJ's Kara Swisher is Managing Editor Nilay Patel.

Word is that the moves are not related to the recent acquisition of the Huffington Post and the new leadership role of Arianna Huffington -- though it is certainly not going to help the transition. More than likely, this move has been long in coming thanks to “The AOL Way", which already cost Engadget two other editors.

Apple's iPad 2 went on sale across America on Friday, and unlike previous launches, the newest version of the popular tablet was just available on at the Apple web store, but at many retail partner locations, as well.
My local Best Buy had line before 5pm, though nothing like those seen at Apple retail stores in San Francisco and New York. Michael Baker, seen at left, was in line to buy his wife an iPad, as was, strangely enough, just about everyone else in line.

At Walmart, however, Greg Kozik (right) and others were there for themselves.

Kozik already owns the first version of the iPad, but wants to buy the new version for his business. Inventories of the iPad 2 were very low at my local Walmart. The staff there telling all buyers that they were sold out even before 5pm, but then allowing a few customers to wait inline so they could purchase a unit -- an obvious, but strange tactic to avoid disappointed customers.
Mike Albro, the store manager at the Best Buy in Gurnee, IL told me that they received enough iPad 2 units to satisfy those who were willing to queue up on Friday. The store then received a second shipment of tablets on Saturday, though they were limited to 3G iPads that work on the Verizon network.

Local Verizon stores also received iPad 2 inventory in time for the Friday launch. My local store went from offering the first iPad sold with MiFi devices to provide Internet connections to the new iPad 2 3G units that work on the Verizon network. The store no longer offers WiFi-only models. The same was true, as you would expect, at the local AT&T Wireless store.

Bloomberg quotes Piper Jaffray Cos. analyst Gene Munster as stating that Apple may have sold as many as 500,000 iPad 2s this weekend -- though, as always, we take anything said by an 'analyst' with a grain of salt.