iPhone, youPhone...

Yesterday was the eagerly anticipated launch of Apple's new iPhone 3G, which has been described as "Twice as fast, half the price" compared to last year's original iPhone. We checked in with news sites and Apple-centric blogs several times yesterday to see how things were going. Bloggers (many of whom evidently had their laptops with them while waiting in line) wrote minute-by-minute (or, more accurately, hour-by-hour) accounts of their experiences trying to purchase and activate the phone at Apple stores and AT&T stores.

Some guy in New Zealand apparently waited in line for 60 hours so he could earn the distinction of being the first customer on earth to purchase an iPhone. I'm not sure that's something I would want to admit: "I missed half a week of work and peed in a jar for 3 days so as not to lose my spot in line." (As far as I know, he did not actually say that, but...think about it.)

Now, Ryan and I have been needing to upgrade our phones for a while. We've had the same Samsung flip-phones for the last four years, and I must admit, they've served us pretty well. Except for the fact that my phone only provides an audible ring on perhaps one in every ten calls I receive. There's a pattern to it, though. If I drop the phone, I can sometimes get it to ring more consistently for a few days. Ryan's phone rings, but it holds a charge for only about 12 hours. Clearly, it was time to get new phones.

We weren't as committed as the New Zealand guy (and scads of other people around the world) to the notion of getting the new iPhone on launch day, so we went about our Friday as usual. This morning, however, we woke up and agreed it was a perfect day to go to the mall and wait in line with a bunch of strangers for 3 hours in order to purchase a new phone. I mean really, it's as if the weather report said "99% chance of iPhone before noon."

So, off we went.

Retail hours at Mayfair Mall start at 10:00 a.m. on Saturdays, so when we arrived at 8:15, it was nothing but mall-walkers, security guards (you could tell they weren't real cops because they were wearing black jeans), and about 20 people waiting patiently in line in front of the Apple Store. There were also a handful of exhausted-looking Apple Store employees, clad in T-shirts of cheerful orange (which, we later learned, denotes "Concierge") or aqua blue (for "Specialists"). Apparently, these same individuals had been selling iPhones from 8:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. on Friday. Despite their obvious exhaustion, the Apple Store team conducted themselves professionally and courteously, giving no outward indication (as one might expect, given the circumstances) that they loathe and despise their general retail public. In fact, they brought us refreshments! (At right, Apple Store employees opening crates of bottled water for us poor schmoes in line.)

Although they were not required to open the store until 10:00 a.m., the Apple team took pity on us and did a "soft open" at 9:00. They warned us that the line would move slowly in that first hour, because they wouldn't be staffed at full capacity until 10:00. That was OK with us!

While we waited, we compared notes on which versions of the iPhone we planned to buy (16GB black for the three Illinois residents who drove up to Milwaukee to buy their phones because apparently Chicago was all sold out; 8GB black for the girl in front of us who just returned from a year in Japan followed by a week and a half in China, two weeks in Australia, 6 hours in Quatar, and a month in Portugal; 16GB black for Ryan and 16GB white for me).

Considering that many stores had sold out of the black phones (in both 8GB and 16GB capacities) on Day 1, you may wonder why I was so eager to get a white one. Was I being contrarian? Am I over black? Am I desperate for people to know that I sprung for the 16GB model (the 8GB version only comes in black; the 16GB model comes in black or white)? I'll let you in on the true rationale: A white phone is easier to find at the bottom of a dark purse. There. I've said it.

Things started getting exciting as we reached the front of the line. We could see people selecting, opening, and activating their phones. We also saw people taking waaaaay too long to make their purchasing decision -- longer than you could reasonably grant them, even if they were iPhone virgins like us. Did they not read the press release? Did they not follow the blogs? Did they not dutifully check the Apple Store's inventory after 9:00 p.m. last night to ensure their model would be in stock? Wait...let's take a step back. Did they know what an iPhone is? Did they know what a cell phone is? Here's a photo of one such couple, apparently being given a tutorial on the fundamentals of cell phone technology, or perhaps the history of the Apple Computer Company. Poor Apple Store employee. Based on the increasingly emphatic nature of his hand gestures over the half-hour he was talking to them, it was clear to all of us on the outside of the store that those folks did not get the memo.

We eventually got in, made our purchases, and got out. Thanks to my fabulous sister Katy, my phone cost $100 less than retail because she let me use the Apple Store credit she was granted after last year's original iPhone price drop. (She's what they mean by "early adopter.") Even the Apple Store employee who helped us was surprised that the credit was still valid.

Here I am, all happy and proud, holding my new iPhone bag. I asked Ryan if he wanted me to take a picture of him holding his new iPhone bag standing outside the Apple Store and he said, "Umm...no." I think it's safe to say that I was far and away the more geeked-out over the whole experience (although Ryan's comparative mellowness was probably due to the early hour of our arrival). See that grin? I am one satisfied customer.

Now I just have to type in everyone's phone numbers, because there's no way to port them from my old, non-Web-enabled Samsung phone. *sigh*


Jason said...

I love the prom picture with your new iphone. Nice touch.

Anonymous said...

So, I get to hear from you more often.