The View from Dallas
UPDATE! SEE END OF STORY!
I've been using an Apple computer since 1977 (Apple II Serial No. 623; it still works!), but I've never carried a cell phone! So why would I need an iPhone?
Before you act like a kill joy with the obvious answer, Who said I NEED one? All the excuse I NEED is that I'm approaching my 77th birthday, I've owned and loved almost every product Apple has produced, and I JUST WANT ONE!
My friend Graham Teschke and I hatched what we thought was a perfect plan:
- Avoid the Dallas Apple Stores, (undoubtedly mobbed, and with some over night campers)
- Locate a small out of the way AT@T store
- Take a chance on getting in line about 5 pm...only one hour before launch!
In an e-mail I received from AT&T was a locater website. I typed in my home address and ZIP and clicked, "show me AT&T stores selling the iPhone within 5 miles of my home." Voila! Up came these choices:
I had never heard of the store near Highway 190 and Jupiter, and in fact the Yahoo map told me that the name of the street was Inchon, not Shire Blvd.; this was just the kind of anonymity we were seeking! Probably a very new store and few will know about it or pick it, what a find! Of course, they'll probably have fewer phones, but we decide to put our bet on its obscurity... Want to come along and see how we do? We arrive 15 minutes earlier than our plan, 4:45 pm, and things look great...The small business park where the AT&T Store is located faces the Highway-190 Speedway, but we don't see Shire Blvd. anywhere! There is plenty of parking, with nice landscaping and, for one evening in Dallas this month, it is NOT raining!
Best of all, there are less than 50 people in line! As we walk up, and AT&T guy adds our name to a list, but he won't tell us what number we are. However, three or four "iPhone Launchers," just ahead of us in line, tell us they think we are about no's 44 and 45... As it turns out, this group is our special "iPhone Launch Buddies" group for the afternoon. I didn't get their names, but we spent the next hour comparing notes, and killing time. It was the only good part of the wait...
I went to the front of the line to check out those at the door of the AT&T Store. They were equipped with chairs, cots, water, knitting, and even a bed roll! However, none had camped over night and the first in line had been there only since about 9 am. They were setting pretty!
Our little group feels confident of getting an iPhone. Using our collective minds, we conclude that 50 iPhones is just about right for this small store. However, we whisper among ourselves that those slowly entering the line BEHIND us may be out of luck.... We think that some of THEM are thinking the same thing; don't they look a little worried?
A bit of excitement erupts with an armored truck pulls up! What better way to deliver 50 tiny iPhones, just in time for the launch! The driver gets out with a large satchel, and gives us a big wave. We decide it isn't the iPhones, but he knows what why we are in line and is having fun with us!
The businesses we were somewhat blocking with our line were, for the most part, very patience with our presence and our chatter. Some had posted signs "No Public Restrooms," but a couple invited us to use theirs if necessary. The AT&T people were noncommittal about how many phones they had, but had lots of information about the iPhone and were very friendly. The afternoon sun was pushing us all against the building for what little shade there was, and it was muggy and sweaty. The smartest thing AT&T did to win us as customers was bring out a big bag of cold bottled water!
As 6 p.m. nears, those with chairs, bedrolls, coolers and such (trusting "the list" to hold their place in line!) take their stuff to their vehicles, do a few limbering up exercises, and check for their credit cards... FINALLY, at 6 p.m. sharp, the doors open and the first iPhone Launchers enter the AT&T sanctum! The line shortens somewhat at first, but it takes FOREVER for the first purchasers to emerge from the store... They certainly seem happy, but none will stick around to talk to us about their experience. (We later heart that AT&T had asked them NOT to discuss their visit with those still in line...to avoid undo EXUBERANCE? Go figure...!)
Finally OUR group of iPhone Launch Buddies approach the door to go in; it is 7:30 pm, and we all feel very confident we will get an iPhone. We can't tell exactly how many phones had been purchased ahead of us, but are told "only one to a customer" at AT@T Stores. The AT@T guy warns, however, "Not everyone of you in line will get a phone...just be aware! However we are prepared to take your order for a phone and ship it to you as soon as more phones are available." We are sure he was talking to those BEHIND US in the line!
Graham and I are "split" from our iPhone Launch Buddies at the door, but don't we look confident? WAS OUR COUNT ACCURATE? DID WE GET IN UNDER THE 50 PHONE LIMIT WE HAD ARBITRARILY SET FOR THIS SMALL STORE? DID OUR MASTER PLAN FOR PURCHASING AN IPHONE WORK? STAY TUNED!
As we enter the store we are directed to a holding area on the floor while our iPhone Launch Buddies complete their purchases at three customer stations. We are almost there, and I relax by taking a couple of pictures inside the store.
Then, the BUMMER question of the day..... "Do you want the 4GB or the 8GB iPhone?" We don't have a CLUE about our fate as we both answer, "Oh, for only $100 difference we will definitely take the 8GB!" There is a brief silence and then the news, "Sorry guys, we've just sold the last of the large phones. We have four left, but they are all 4GB." We try out best to be good sports...we gambled, and A-L-M-O-S-T won! Our phone count was right on target, but we didn't allow for two different size phones....
We are too disheartened to ask, but it appears our iPhone Launch Buddies, just 5 minutes ahead of us in line, have purchased the last of the large phones. Most of the twenty or thirty still waiting outside are out of luck also, unless they want one of the 4GB iPhones...
SO BE IT! NO ONE IS TO BLAME! WE'LL LIVE TO BUY OUR PHONE ANOTHER DAY, AND THE EXPERIENCE WAS WELL WORTH AN AFTERNOON OF CAMARADERIE IN THE DALLAS SUN! As a matter of fact, we both value this part of any Apple purchase as one of the reason's we buy Steve Jobs products.... sharing the excitement and prestige with others!
SATURDAY MORNING, 11 AM: I checked the Apple website for iPhone availability in Dallas and it showed they were available at all Apple Stores! Got in my VW Bug and hotfooted it to the store at Willow Bend. They were selling them as fast as their new little sales wands could process them! I bought and 8GB and rushed how to activate it! Hey, I think AT@T got short changed! -- Bye R@y
NOW, to figure out how to use this thing! Having never even carried a cellphone before, I'm starting at ground zero, but, as with any Apple product, it will be fun! -- Bye R@y
Launch the iPhone!
Its Always Fun with Apple...
Welcome to the Fun, AT&T!
Thanks, AT&T for helping to develop and launch the iPhone! You are going to meet a great group of enthusiastic and brand loyal customers that are passionate about the Apple Logo. You are also going to sell to millions of phone users who have never owned an Apple product before, and see them come back for a new and better iPhone NEXT year! Welcome to the Apple market!