Today (at least for us mere mortals) marked the official arrival of the fourth-generation iPhone. Here's my tale from scene at the Apple Store at The Pier in Atlantic City.
With my printed confirmation tucked safely in my backback Rob Parker (from the PowerPage Podcast) and I departed for the Apple Store in A.C. at about 6:15 a.m. After parking in the garage at Caesar's Rob and I took made an informal bet on the over/under of the amount of people that would be in line at the store -- this is Atlantic City, after all. Rob picked 30 (reserved) and 50 (unreserved). I scoffed at his surely lowball number. I bet on 50/100.
Boy were we wrong.
Upon arrive (about 6:45 a.m.) the line on the boardwalk had grown to almost a full city block:
I conservatively estimated about 125 in the reserved line and 200+ in the unreserved line. I'm pretty sure that there was already a small queue inside the mall too. This compares to a paltry 30/50 at the iPhone 3GS launch. It was more comparable to the original iPhone 3G launch two years ago, but even that was less people than today. After the shock of the long line wore off (why didn't we come at midnight?) we dutifully took our spots in line and waited. And waited. And waited.
One rumor making its way through the line was that the local Best Buy store only had 12 iPhone's in stock and that Walmart and Radio Shack weren't much better at about 50 units each. Other than that, there were a lot of "have you seen this app?" impromptu demos in line, kvetching about the line, and a few jokes about what to do with our old mobile phones when a large trash truck rumbled by.
At about 7:30 a.m. they allowed about 40 people from the reserved line inside the mall and although air conditioning is a nice perk, no chairs are allowed inside The Pier. So a lot of people ended up abandoning their lawn chairs outside. Shortly after the initial wave, about 40 people from the unreserved line were permitted inside to wait. After several more waves like this (albeit probably two-to-on in favor of the reserved) we were within three people from the front -- at almost 9:00 a.m.
After finally being let inside to the glorious air conditioning, there was only a small queue inside, about 6 and 25, roughly. However, a nice treat awaited -- a cart loaded with a continental breakfast-ish food spread: bagels, muffins, croissants and all the fixins. Hat's off to the managers at The Pier store for spending a few bucks on food for the waiting masses. While in the final line, a store staffer confirmed those with a reservation via a custom iPad app. After searching via last name, a slider was slide to "here."
Once actually allowed inside the store, by now 9:30 or so, it was relatively quick work to pay for, activate and start using my iPhone. Surprisingly, AT&T's activation servers had no trouble and it was a relatively painless process. But them again, I had pretty low expectations.
Apple gives a pretty hard sell on both AppleCare and MobileMe before actually allowing me to sign for my iPhone, but as a user of both it was a relative no brainer. It's noteworthy that Apple offers $30 off MobileMe when purchased with an iPhone or Mac ($69 vs. $99), so if you're going to buy it, that's the time to do it. If you already have MobileMe, the new purchase can be added onto the end of your existing term.
Checkout was via the traditional iPhone app and custom credit card reader. And although insanely expensive at $29, I picked up Apple's new bumper case (like the phones, Atlantic City had black only). Since I can be clumsy with my gadgets (and use them 24/7) I'm not willing to take the chance of fumbling my iron. And voila, there you have it!
What was your experience like?