Startreck I mean ... iPhone Convention
(Traduction en Français dans quelques jours)
How bad do you want a product if you are willing to stand in line ... not hours, but DAYS, in order to get it? In New York, people lined up as early as Monday or Tuesday of last week in front of the Apple Store on 5th Avenue.
In San Francisco or in Bay Area in general, people didn't quite go to that extreme but still, this is what you could see in front of the Apple store, on Stockton St., San Francisco, in the morning of Friday, June 29th. And this is what you could see around the block, and probably even further, if you cared to check.
Yes, people really did spent the night in front of the store to be certain to be among the first ones to get an iPhone, and those are really tents and mattresses you see on the sidewalk.
Overall, the mood was really pretty good when I checked Friday morning. Most people appeared to be very organized and quite comfortably installed in chairs with books, music, computers, food and drinks, blankets, and games. I understand that Apple exceptionally provided these people access to their bathroom, which is probably the least they could do, if you think about it, and an anonymous benefactor even donated pizza and hot chocolate the night before.
A few young people were wearing iWait.org tee-shirts. Apparently, iWait is an organization of high school kids willing to wait online for you for a fee. If you are interested in the process, clink on this link to check out their website or click here to see the ABC 7 news' piece, complete with a short video.
No iPhones were made available until 6:00 p.m. That poor(?) guy(?) passed out under that purple blanket, sitting at the corner of Stockton and O'Farrell, was completely oblivious to the millions of cars driving by just a couple of feet away from his chair and the thousands of people walking right past him.
Around 2:00 p.m., the store kicked everybody out and closed its doors to prepare for the bIg event.
You know me, I like entertainment, so I decided to come back later and see what there was to see.
By that time, there were no more tents or chairs on the sidewalk, but the line seemed to be extending even further, now, and you could feel the electricity in the air.
I got there right around 6:00 p.m., when the Apple guys were beginning to let people in. There was a fair amount of commotion around the store (not only were there journalists and photographs - both professionals and amateurs - everywhere) but there were also curious people, some even climbing on stuff, hoping to see the inside of the store better, maybe in hopes of finding, oh, I don't know, Steve Jobs or Santa Claus or who knows... maybe even God himself!
Of course, a San Francisco gathering wouldn't be complete without Frank Chu carrying his 12 Galaxies sign (which by now appear to have expanded to 800 Galaxies). But I digress.
I told you I like entertainment. So, into the Apple store I went.
The Apple guys were lined up on each side of the door, and were letting in groups of approximately 10 to 15 people at a time. Apparently they had been instructed to clap and make a bunch of cheerful noises as soon as a group of people walked in the door, because that's exactly what they were doing.
I'll tell you, it actually feels pretty good to be cheered on by a group of people you don't know, when you walk in the door somewhere! Almost like your very own little suprise party, I guess. One could totally get used to it, you know! ;)
And then again, if you consider that each of these people walking in was willing to drop between $499+tax (for one single 4 GB phone) and up to $1200+tax (for two 8GB phones) within minutes, then I guess that could explain the enthousiasm or why they were trying to make you feel like you were Paris Hilton.
Sales were ringing up fast in there, let me tell you. They even had converted the infamous (don't ask!!!) "Genious Bar" upstairs to additional cash registers (a great idea, too, because they were all busy!) and many people I saw walk into the store climbed directly up the stairs where they patiently stood online to pick up their device and pay for it without giving it a second thought. Apple allowed a maximum of 2 phones per person and a noticeable number of people did walk out with 2 little bags. Kaching!
Some were still playing with the idea ...
This guy (a software engineer, I believe, according to the Chronicle, who got much better pictures) was in a hurry to get it up and running so he set up right there in the store. According to the Chronicle, the set-up was easy and fast for him.
Of course, by now you must wonder if I got one, uh? Well, its not like I didn't copiously lust for it during the entire time I was near or at the Apple store (must be something in the air, I don't know)... or maybe it was the voice of that little kid (I mean me) who (gladly!) gave up an entire paycheck many years ago in exchange for the privilege of being one of the very first ones to own and operate one of the First Generation Sony Walkmans (remember these?), when they first came out on the European market, sooooo long ago ...
And believe me, that iPhone they got there at the Apple store is really is one sleek-looking device, let me tell you, and I'll admit the fever kinda got to me, too, for a couple of hours ... So did I end up getting one?
Well, it was tempting, but honestly, I just don't see myself commiting to dropping $3000 [count the price of the device combined with the cost of a 2-year contract with AT&T] for yet another piece of electronics AND the "privilege" of becoming Apple's beta tester on a first generation product they will undoubtedly improve in the near future.
It's not that I'm not yet sold on the "Internet in your pocket" idea because, believe me, I really am and have been ready for that for a *long* time already, but I really have my doubts as to how fast that internet connection is really gonna be, especially in San Francisco where the signal for cells is notoriously so bad and WiFi is still not available everywhere.
Anyway, since I did a little bit of research, I will try to update this post in the next few days with a couple of interesting videos I saw, and relevant links that may help you out if you're still on the fence about the iPhone.
So, was all the hoopla worth it? Well, I guess that all depends who you ask. No need to ask these two how they feel...
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In the meantime, you can check out the Chronicle's article with pictures and a number of links (in English)
Also there is some interesting information on this silicon valley blog I found (in English)