Don’t be alarmed by Black Friday… but don’t get too excited either

Madeleine Swain
29 November, 2013
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In Australia, appellations of the colour Black usually denote something awful – particularly catastrophic bushfire events. Black Saturday was the most recent of these, when 173 people died in Victoria on 7 February 2009.

And Black Friday refers to the devastating bushfires that claimed the lives of 71 people in the same state in 1939. Other events that use that title also have distressing connotations – there’s the 1881 Eyemouth Black Friday disaster in which 189 fishermen died. The Black Friday of 1910 referred to a women’s suffrage event when out of 300 protesting women at the UK’s Houses of Parliament, at least 200 of them were assaulted and two died due to police violence.

In 1978 there was a massacre of Iranian protestors, in 1987 a Canadian tornado and in 1993 a series of bombings in Mumbai.

Black Fridays all of them.

But in more recent times, Black Friday has come to mean something very different in the US. It’s the day following Thanksgiving and is generally regarded as the official beginning of the holiday shopping season. Why ‘Black Friday’, when the name has traditionally had such negative connotations? There are various theories. Ben Zimmer in ‘The Origins of Black Friday’ details some of them. “The earliest known example of ‘Black Friday’ to refer to the day after Thanksgiving is from an article entitled ‘Friday After Thanksgiving’ in the November 1951 issue of Factory Management and Maintenance. The article was about worker absenteeism on that day, rather than the shopping rush.”

As the day has become more entrenched as a big shopping day, many major retailers now open especially early or offer one-day deals, trying to kick-start the most lucrative sales period of the year.

Apple is one such retailer, and US consumers are now used to waiting for this one day in the year before ponying up their hard-earned for the latest and greatest iDevices – looking for significant discounts on the Cupertino California tech company’s famously premium priced goods.

But Apple likes to branch out even further. Overlooking the niggling little fact that Thanksgiving is a bit like the baseball ‘World Series’ and is really only celebrated in the US and Canada (OK, you can add Puerto Rico, Norfolk Island, Grenada and, bizarrely, Liberia in there too), Apple believes the rest of the world deserves a piece of the Black Friday action too.

Time zone variations mean that folks in Australia and New Zealand are usually the first to be privy to the special Black Friday deals, which last year saw savings of $41 on an iPad, $31 on an iPad 2 and iPod touch, $101 on the MacBook Pros as well as MacBook Air and $7 to $21 on a range of gadgets, including the Apple EarPods, Apple Magic Mouse and the Time Capsule.

But this year those looking for substantial discounts on a new much coveted iPad Air may have had their hopes, if not crushed, then at least tempered.

For, as was rumoured, in Australia and New Zealand at least, the Black Friday Apple deals have taken the form of gift cards available with the purchases rather than straightforward discounts, meaning that any savings will still come back to Apple eventually. Though Mashable notes that the Retina iPad mini is a notable exclusion, suggesting that “this could be due to Apple having trouble keeping up with the demand for this particular model”.

The deals are as follows:

  • iPad Air: $75 gift card
  • iPad mini: $50 gift card on non-Retina models, no gift card on Retina models
  • iPad 2: $50 gift card
  • iPod touch: $50 gift card
  • iPod nano: $25 gift card
  • MacBook Air: $150 gift card
  • MacBook Pro: $150 gift card for both Retina and non-Retina models
  • iMac: $150 gift card
  • Apple TV: $25 gift card
  • AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule: $50 gift card, and
  • Various accessories: gift card amounts vary.

Which is all very nice, but it’s not quite the same as actual savings and disappointed folk are making their feelings clear.

Especially when the European Apple sites have just gone live and they are offering discounts, not gift cards. The discounts in the UK store are:

  • iPad Air: save £31-61
  • iPad mini: save £15 on non-Retina models, no discount on Retina models
  • iPad 2: save £25
  • iPod touch: Save £25
  • iPod nano: save £11
  • MacBook Air: save £81
  • MacBook Pro: save £81 on both Retina and non-Retina models
  • iMac: save £81
  • Apple TV: save £15
  • AirPort Extreme: save £15
  • AirPort Time Capsule: save £25, and
  • Various accessories: discounts vary.

All eyes will be on the US and Canadian stores, which will reveal their bargains at midnight Pacific time (7pm Friday 29 November in Australia), but it is believed that they will follow the Australia model and offer gift cards too.

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