How to pre-order an iPhone 5 for pickup on Friday, today

Here's how I see my Friday morning going:

  1. Get up, at the usual time.
  2. Have breakfast with my family.
  3. Get ready for work at the usual pace.
  4. Drop by Target on my way to work.
  5. Walk right up to the cell phone stand.
  6. Trade in an iPhone 4 for $158, and keep my cables and AC adapters.
  7. Pick up the iPhone 5 I pre-ordered last night.

This could go wrong, but currently I have a very low single-digit reservation at my local Target, mère minutes away. They did tell me that they were required to say the phone might not arrive until Monday, too. That still beats the heck out of the 2-3 weeks I'm hearing elsewhere.

How did this happen? Well, I don't think it was any accident.

While AT&T seems to be screwing up people's orders left and right—one way this could go wrong for me is that AT&T might not cancel the pre-order they somehow managed to already botch before Friday, thus using up my upgrade eligibility for an order that can't actually be fulfilled, oh, and I'm just one example of this predicament out of dozens I've encountered without even trying—Target is, well, just being Target. Doing what they do well. Focusing on great customer experiences, and trusting that a healthy bottom line will follow.

So while stores like Best Buy and Wal-Mart are offering "pre-orders" that are really just gift cards and a chance to wait in line on Friday, Target is setting up a one-stop(okay, two-stop, since you have to pre-order in person, but I have kids, so it's not like I wasn't already at Target several times this week) shop where you can trade-in old phones for cash and pick up your actually-reserved pre-order in mere minutes.

Why isn't everybody pre-ordering at Target, then? I'm guessing two reasons: obscurity and planned obscurity. I think this is the first year that Target has gotten to participate in pre-order/day 0 iPhone sales, so, at least this year, it's not one of the first places people think of to go for day 0 purchasing. And, this being the first year, I think Target is choosing not to promote this so as to dip their toe and see how it goes. For one thing, at this stage, I don't think Target knows what kind of inventory they'll be getting Friday, and they're definitely an under-promise-and-over-deliver kind of outfit.

So, if you haven't secured an iPhone 5 pre-order, but you'd like to, and you don't want to get in line tomorrow afternoon at your local Apple store, drop by Target.

Apparently Jony Ive isn't busy enough...

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