Yes friends, I did what every tech obsessed adult wanted to do yesterday - I waited in line to get an iPhone. Being a lazy kind of person desiring an iPhone, I didn't arrive at the Burlington Mall until 4:15pm - less than two hours before they went on sale. As any devout Apple watcher can tell you, the Apple Stores all closed at 2pm to prepare for the big unveiling and mad rush at 6pm.
#99 in Line
The wait in line was amusing. I haven't waited in line to purchase anything since 1982, when I camped overnight in a parking lot to get tickets to see Cheap Trick at the Rainbow in Denver. The Burlington Mall line was a superior experience in that I didn't wake up covered in dew, and there were public restrooms available without the purchase of a Grand Slam Breakfast. The people in line were quite upbeat - it was easy to imagine them in the line for Santa Claus. The kids at the front of the line had been there since the mall opened, and were equipped for an 8 hour wait - that is to say they had nice chairs, food and beverages, books, iPods, laptops - and they took turns running errands for each other. The majority of people did not bring chairs. I brought my Zuca bag - a Christmas present from my husband which I thought an odd choice at first, until I learned all the ways it could make my life easier, prime among the being a place to sit when waiting at the train, or for an Apple iPhone. Ozzy Simoes, the manager of the Quizno's Subs location in the mall had the best live marketing effort I've seen in ages. He brought a tray of samples, talked to every single person in line, and gave out business cards with a handwritten coupon on the back. Smart! Another gentlemen worked the line offering his tech consulting business card. He was nice, but hey - free samples will always get you better press. The folks in line were happy to chat about why they wanted the iPhone ("It does everything!" and "I think I got sucked in by the advertising because I NEED one." were typical responses.) My friend Peter sent me text messages of encouragement/mocking - so the wait went very quickly (also I had a book, an iPod, snacks and water...)
Employees of the Apple Store would come out in pairs and check out the line, answering questions, keeping people calm and working hard to generate excitement. Believe me, they didn't have to work too hard - the people in line would have sung on command if there was a chance of getting in the store early. At one point an entire squad came out and clapped and cheered the crowd - they got the wave going for a few minutes, but then the people in line realized the girls at the Kaye Jewelers counter were laughing at them and shaking their heads.
At 6pm a countdown erupts and all of a sudden the line surges forward - controlled chaos, but still a surge. The first dozen enter the store. There is a big crowd outside the store, including some local reporters and electronic news media - but mostly bored spouses and friends waiting for their insane loved ones to exit the store so they could go get supper. The final guardian at the gate is clicking a hand counter and letting people in 10 at a time. Folks are getting in and out quickly and exiting the store to lots of applause - applause from the platoon of Apple employees, folks in line and now from the crowd gathered in front of the store.
My group enters to applause and different sales strategies emerge. Most head directly to the registers, but I luck into Apple employee Chris who has a handheld pay device, so not only does he order up my 8g iPhone, he brings me to the accessories (a case, and crystal clear screen shields.) I am in an out of the store in under 5 minutes, memento photographs taken (see all of them at my Flickr set), and swinging a snazzy iPhone tote bag. I took my iPhone (and my husband) to supper at Legal Seafood where the sight of it on the bar drove several people to ask lots of questions.
I brought the iPhone home and readied myself for the online activation experience. I'd watched and re-watched the intructional videos on the Apple site so many times I could have recited them word for word - so I knew that the iPhone would be activated via iTunes and then sync my music, photos, contacts and data the same way. Cynic that I am I never expected that it would be as easy as it was professed to be. But it was easy. My music, a handful of images and my contacts are happily residing on the device. And like all of the Apple technology in my life, it just works.