While we were away for spring break, my daughter was reading a book on the Kindle app of the iPad Mini she had recently received from her grandparents on her 11th birthday. The edges of the screen awoke with strange, slightly undulating zebra patterns — very tight, maybe five pixels wide each — extending the length of the screen. She kept reading (I believe Cupcake Diaries) until the stripes engulfed the reading material.
My first thought was that Apple was taking subtle revenge on Amazon for its usurpation of iBook business. But a hard reboot (pressing the home and power buttons for a few seconds) didn’t help; nor did a factory reset, which I did with assistance from the phone support people (here, you hold the device’s home button while plugging it into the PC with iTunes running — until you get a message acknowledging your desire to whack everything your daughter has done to make this sexy little device her own and return it to its Foxconn state).
These failures were unsurprising. There were allusions to the problem on the message boards, and they seemed to point to a hardware failure. Some component, probably. So we set up an appointment for 11:30 a.m. on Monday, today, at the Apple Store in Denver’s Cherry Creek Mall.
The girls were off school (today was a “teacher work day” of the sort that pushes even those not viscerally anti-union to be at least slightly anti-union. I mean, couldn’t you come in a half hour early and prep? After a week off? With summers off anyway? And Christmas, and and and?), so they came along. The mall was quiet, except for parents with school-age kids wondering why their school-age kids weren’t in school. The Apple store was mobbed. This is apparently normal.
Part of the mob were athletic looking women and men of Asian persuasion wearing matching red warm-up suits decorated with kanji. The women in particular were young and with highly defined cheekbones… ah! These were members of the Chinese women’s national soccer team, which had played the Americans up at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park yesterday. My eight-year-old daughter Maya is a soccer player on a team called the Mighty Dolphins. I said, Maya, these women, in addition to being big-time shoppers of Apple products, are awesome soccer players. Of like 600-some million women in China, they’re the very best ones. Think about that!
She thought for a moment and said, “Why don’t they just shop for iPads in China?”
“Because it’s cheaper here,” I said.
Maya wanted me to buy her a device. I said, “Of course you do. Look at this place. The sharp lines, the thick Scandinavian wooden tables. The iPads that look like they’re melted into blocks of ice that is in fact Lucite. The bold colors on the walls contrasted with the crisp white elsewhere. I want one of everything, too. But we’re here to replace Lily’s broken iPad Mini.”
The girls opened up some sort of photo booth app on a MacBook Pro at the table where we waited for the blue-shirted person to come by. When he came by, I realized the camera was activated, and that the software was putting a little merry-go-round of animated bluebirds over my head. The blue-shirted person, a guy, showed up right then, and this distracted me when I explained the issue.
One of the great regrets of my life is that, in 1996, I failed to buy Apple stock when it was at like $6 a share. The company now boasts a market cap of $439 billion (the world’s largest; Apple is, at the moment, worth more than IBM and Procter & Gamble combined) and is sitting on a hoard of $159 billion in cash. As I suspected, they replaced our iPad Mini with one whose screen functions as advertised. But I figured, as a public service, I would put this out there just in case someone out there with zebra screen is feeling alone.