There has been several Android tablets released, and a few in the works, yet none that I have seen have generated as much excitement as the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer. Much of the excitement revolves around the price (USD 399/499 for 16GB/32GB) and the ability to add a dockable keyboard which provides more of a netbook experience (not to mention it doubles as a battery boosting battery life from an advertised 9.5 hours to 16 hours). Given the price point the Transformer definitely piqued my interest. Today was the announced U.S / Canada launch date, so I figured during my lunch break I would head over to Best Buy (ASUS was nice enough to provide a list of participating retailers) and pick one up, give it a whirl and do a post for the site here. Before heading over to Best Buy I decided to check online to make sure they had in stock. I tried searching on their site and no such product existed. Next I paid Newegg a visit which was another participating retailer and no such product existed (you can actually find the 16GB model here but if you actually try searching for it you will have no luck???). I went through the list of 5-10 more retailers and either the product did not exist, or it was listed as available for pre order (maybe it is just me but launch date and pre order don’t seem to go hand in hand???). I checked the ASUS twitter feed and nothing but a glowing “Eee Pad has been launched today” tweet. I took one final stab to figure out what was going on and went over to the ASUS Facebook page. After reading through some of the comments from users the picture got a little clearer. Everyone was experiencing the same issue, either the Transformer did not exist or it was available for pre order at a few select sites. Some websites the Transformer appeared and moments later disappeared. On Amazon.com supposedly right at midnight the Transformer appeared and within minutes it sold out. Throughout the day today the Transformer has reappeared for pre order, and moments later appears as unavailable. Even more amusing are sellers on eBay who are offering the Transformer at a premium, yet then state that it won’t be available until mid May (who in their right mind would pay a premium for a pre order???).
So could this possibly be the biggest launch date botch? I don’t know about that since I don’t usually follow product launch dates. However, I have to imagine this is pretty high up there. There are quite a few irate potential customers posting comments on ASUS’ facebook page. Several folks are pushing for everyone with pre orders to cancel and instead purchase alternatives like the just released Acer Iconia tablet or other. Adding to the confusion/anger is the fact that there has been no public announcement from ASUS. All I can gather is ASUS had a very short supply (with the intention of making available via online only except for a handful that I read were available at Frys), yet instead of being open about this or even delaying the launch date to allow for sufficient inventory ASUS just went ahead with their schedule. Only time will tell if this move cost them potential customers. On the bright side ASUS just provided quite a few Business Schools an excellent case study on how not to launch a product!