Friday, June 29, 2007

Tales of Buying the First iPhone

I was debating whether I was going to wait on line for hours to get an iPhone today. On my way to a lunch meeting in San Jose I stopped by the local Cingular/AT&T store (one of only two in all of Santa Cruz county) and I saw that there were only about 15 people on line. I called Laura and told her to grab a spot on line for a couple hours until I could relieve her after my meeting. Just before noon I visited an Apple retail store in San Jose and the line had a couple hundred people already queued up so I figured that it was probably a bad bet to wait at an Apple retail store.

Laura was on line by 11:30 am and I showed up at 2:30 pm to take her spot to await the 6 pm "witching hour" when they iPhone sales' would commence. Guess what? Ms. Impatient wouldn't give up her spot! She was actually enjoying it! Laura was about 25th in line and there were about 20 people behind her so she told me to go to the end of the line – that way we could buy two iPhones since it was one per person at the AT&T stores (at the Apple retail stores it was two per person).

So, I queued up at the end of the line. There were plenty of people walking by who didn't know why there was a crowd camped out in the middle of the mall (we refer to them as "civilians") - when they asked me what all the fuss was about I told them that Paris Hilton was in one of the stores signing autographs.

The geek factor, of the people on the line, wasn't too bad. One group near the front of the line had a video projector and played Star Wars - in its entirety - by projecting it on the ceiling.

Click image to enlarge

At 6 pm the AT&T store reopened and the first batch of seven customers dashed in. It seemed to take forever until the first, ecstatic, iPhone owner emerged. I couldn't understand what took so long since the only thing that needed to be done was to pay for the phone. Activating the phone is done at home through iTunes. Finally, after 15 minutes the first customer pranced out of the store to a round of cheers.

After waiting for an hour after the store reopened it was Laura's turn. She literally darted into the store – a distance of about six feet.

So, at this point, we knew that one us was about to become an iPhone owner. As I neared the door to the store the AT&T manager came out and announced, "At this point, I only have nine units remaining."
Panic choked everyone around me. I quickly counted nine - exactly nine - people in front of me. As I counted, people started dissecting the manager's announcement with follow up questions, "Does that nine include the people in the store or is it in addition to the people in the store?"
He said he wasn't exactly sure because the inventory was moving so fast.

BP 160 over 110, pulse 170 and rising with tunnel vision.

Laura emerged with her iPhone in hand. I whispered to her, "They going to run out right around me!"
There was only one person in front of me, at this point, and he asked Laura how much he could pay her for her iPhone if they ran out. But, a moment later, he was invited in. A few minutes later another employee emerged. I thought it was to make a follow up announcement, but, instead, he walked over to me and introduced himself as Dave as he escorted me into the store - with Laura in tow.
"Do you have any 8 GB left in stock?", I exclaimed.
Just as I said that, another sales rep picked up an unopened 8 GB iPhone and started to bring it to the back of the store. Dave called to her and grabbed it as he told me, "This is the last one."

I couldn't believe it - I just made it! After waiting for more than five hours I was the last one to receive an 8 GB iPhone. Whew! Had one more person been in line my only option would have been to place a backorder which would have been shipped to my house. The backorder option would have been a faster alternative than waiting for the store's resupply stock.

The Apple online store reports a 2 - 4 week lead time for orders placed through the company's Web site.

Had Laura not gone to wait on line at 11:30 this morning neither of us would have an iPhone. Thanks, honey!


Anonymous said...

joe & Laura.. you are both too funny.. once again..the show continues... we miss you guys.. have fun with the new toys..susan & ron

Anonymous said...

Where near Santa Cruz is this store? My daughter has lost her phone. Our family plan is through AT&T. We're on the east coast, she's there, and I'm trying to be helpful. I found your blog while searching for Cingular/AT&T stores in Santa Cruz.

Joe Moreno said...

It is located inside the Capitola Mall on 41st Street and Capitols Ave.