Apple lends a hand (and an iPad) to retail employees

Apple (s aapl) wants to make it easy for its retail employees to get some one-on-one time with its iPad, according to a new report (via AppleInsider). The Mac maker is readying a pilot program that would allow employees at its flagship San Francisco-based store to check out iPads for up to a week at a time, sort of like a high-end electronics library.

The loaner program would allow employees to take a device from a pool of iPads. During the week, employees can do what they like with the device and don’t have to take it back to the store until their time is up, according to the report.

There’s no word on whether the pilot program is a first step before rolling this out across Apple’s retail chain, but that’s a logical assumption, if the pilot program is successful. A lending program for the iPad would help ensure all employees have hands-on familiarity with the iPad and with iOS 5 when it launches, which should be sometime next month.

Apple hasn’t done any lending to retail employees before, but it did actually give away the original iPhone in 2007 to store workers. And retail employees would definitely benefit from more actual experience with the iPad and Apple’s software. It’s a little unfair considering my job, but I often test the knowledge of Apple’s sales staff when I’m visiting a store, and am amazed at how often they either don’t know or are mistaken about a specific device’s capabilities.