updated 08:00 pm EST, Mon March 5, 2012
No reason given, though iPad a factor
After running an experimental "pop-up" store in Austin during the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive festival last year, Apple has confirmed that it will not be participating this year. No reason was given, but the timing of the anticipated iPad 3 release may have played a role. Last year, the pop-up store appeared more than a week after the release of the iPad 2, but this year the iPad 3 will be announced just two days before the festival, and may not be immediately available.
Even if the new iPad does become available on the day of its announcement, supplies are expected to be extremely constrained for many retail outlets, and Apple may wish to give preference to its own retail stores and partners ahead of more "promotional" appearances. Last year's store occupied the Scarborough Building on Congress and Sixth, and sold the iPad along with other Apple products and accessories during the festival, which this year runs March 9th-13th.
Other explanations are also possible: that the store did not meet Apple's expectations last year, or that the expense or logistics of pop-up stores were not justified. The website Austin360 has speculated that the move may signal a later release date for the new iPad. Most reports of the forthcoming media event expect the iPad 3 will be available on or very shortly after the formal announcement, at least in the US. [Photos via Alberto Martinez/American-Statesman]