Edit: complete overhaul of first post
Thanks to everyone who had participated in the Poll.
I had reset the poll looking for input from the community for the options, however, it is now very clear that
"First come First Serve" is the winner. Still not sure how many would be against the hybrid version proposed by Steve:
The libertarian in me likes a market based solution. First, determine a rate per day that BFL would like to sell the products (this would be based on a lot of factors including manufacturing capacity, need to raise capital to fund the manufacturing, etc). On day 1, list the items for a very high premium over the announced prices. If nothing sells on day 1, or less than the targeted amount sells, then on day 2 they lower the price. If more sold, then you raise the price (although the objective would be to steadily lower the price each day until you hit the announced prices). Trade-ins would be treated no different than cash buyers. Shipping then happens in order of purchase. BFL would also ship in a steady flow rather than huge batches at once (and agree not to use hardware in there possession for mining while it awaits shipment). The reason for this is that the early buyers are seeking to get the hardware earlier and start mining before everyone else gets the hardware…and they are paying a premium for it. So, if BFL gets a shipment of 30 mini rigs and expect to get another shipment of 30 the next months, rather than ship all 30 at once, they would ship 1 per day (in purchase order).
A somewhat non market based twist on this is that they might want to restrict the number of units one person can order…this would prevent someone with deep pockets from buying a very substantial portion of the hardware, costs be damned. Of course, there are ways such a rule could be circumvented and I wonder whether such a rule would actually work counter to the goal of distributing the hardware. Someone successfully circumventing the process might gain an unfair advantage over someone else with a lot of capital, but abiding by the rules. So, I tend to think it's actually better not to have such limits.
I think this would clear up a lot of issues not just for the community, but for BFL as well.
Either way, it's their business not mine; there choice not ours, but I am grateful they took this issue into serious consideration.
Transitioning to ASICs is going to be an interesting ride. Since BFL is making it happen, their involvement in the community is a very positive sign in my opinion.
Edit: Oh crap, here I am updating my thread and orders have already commenced a while ago. Sucks I had to be out today.
Good luck to all in their order positions.