I arrived by bike at the University Village Apple Store at 8 a.m. figuring it would be better than sleeping there overnight and not as bad as getting in at 8:45 a.m. And while I was right, it still would be two hours before I got the Pad. It was really cold, with a vicious wind, but what a hoot the iPad circus was. Apple dispensing free bottled water and wax eggs cleverly disguised to look like chocolate. An extended wi-fi network (using outdoor booster Airports) because the existing was already overloaded. A guy from Cult of Mac selling t-shirts of Woz and Jobs during various phases of Apple evolution.
I did an actual head count of 225 by 8:30, including a Poor Saps (who hoped to get an iPad without a reservation) Line of more than 100. Apple told me more than 700 Pads had been reserved at U Village, and by the time doors opened there were about half that waiting. The line didn’t quit once doors opened, and at 10 a.m. there were still more than 300 folks waiting.
When you got to the door an Applette took your name and checked your reservation, then handed you off to your personal Apple dude, who helpfully guided you to the accessories shelves, where I got a cover with flap that doubles as an upright iPad stand. Very nice, especially for typing. Then he took my cc number and we chatted a bit — no hurry which was great — and I was on my own. I hung around a bit shooting video and soaking up the vibe, then headed on my bike for Herkimer in the U District and a wi-fi connection.
Funny scene. Of course the minute I get the Pad box out I’ve got a crowd around me. “Ladies and gentlemen,” one guy announces, “there’s an iPad in the house!!!” So I have to hurry thru the reg procedure (done via iTunes) and then pass the thing around. “I could just run off with this thing,” one guy joked. “Yeah and you’d have 10 guys on your tail!” another said.
There was so much commotion the head waitress called out from behind the counter, “I’m sorry sir, you’re going to have to leave.” Everyone was getting into the spirit.
Then to my astonishment up walks Jeff Reifman, the guy who broke the Microsoft tax dodge story and continues great journalism on his blog in pursuit of the Redmond tax cheat. “Now I know why you didn’t answer my emails!” he jokes. Of course he wants to play with the thing too (Jeff’s a Mac ace who’s getting his Pad delivered later today). So we chat awhile, he shows me his newspaper app for Facebook which really rocks, and we agree to get together soon.
Then my iPhone rings and it’s my wife Cecile asking where I am. When I tell her she says “Can you PLEASE come home now? I want to see it!!!”
So my dreaded “spousal elective” scenario starts forming whereby Cecile loves the Pad so much she “appropriates” it. This is what happened with the iPhone. She liked it so much I had to get another one for myself.
Not to be scammed once again, my plan is simply to let her use it all she wants and then get the 3G for myself. At the end of the month when they become available. After standing in line another 2 hours. Aaaaaaarrrggghhhh!! I love it!!
UPDATE: After I arrived home I saw the UPS truck delivering iPads in the hood. “It’s fun,” the driver said, “I can hear people literally running to the door when I ring.”
He said UPS delivered crateloads of iPads to the U Village store earlier that morning. “The one you got was probably hot off the plane,” he said. I hope not. Even for a company as precise as Apple, that’s cutting things a bit close.