So last Friday, I was getting off earlier since I had been working all night, and I began to plan out my night. The difference this Friday, was the iPhone. I first caught a glimpse of the iphone at Macworld a few months ago. At that time, there were no prototypes on the floor, only a couple of iphones in revolving glass displays. Six months later, the hype is still strong, but will the iPhone be as revolutionary to communications as the iPod was the music? Keep reading.
The first thing people ask when they see the iPhone is how did I get one, did I have to camp out for it, hire a kid to stand in line for me, or pay a premium on ebay? Part of the strategy that Friday afternoon was targeted at finding the best solution to this dilemma of scarcity. The internet rumors had AT&T Wireless corporate stores having 60-80 iPhones each, with a limit of one per customer. The Apple stores did not say how many they would get, but had a limit of two per customer and were planning on staying open until midnight.
Based on this intelligence, we figured that the Apple stores would have many more iPhones, especially since they were staying open later and had a limit of two per customer. But, the Apple stores would be much more crowded. We were hoping to miss the initial wave of people who had camped out and get in on the second wave, assuming that there would be enough supply. While I was planning our iPhone strategy, I got a call from Alan who had picked up the 2nd to last 8GB iPhone at the AT&T store in Connecticut. Alan got there at 6pm. Reports were now starting to roll in that many AT&T stores were selling out but were willing to place orders for the iPhone to be delivered to your home. Nobody was reporting any Apple stores selling out.
My first try at 6pm was a drive by the AT&T store in San Francisco on Geary. At 1pm earlier in the day, they had about 10 people in line. Now the line extended down the block. I talked the people at the head of the line who said that there were 60 phones, 20 of which were already gone by now, at 6:20pm. I made a quick head count and got back into my car headed for another store. At that time, I met up with my friend who was also iPhone hunting. He started to call around to the different AT&T stores, and surprisingly they answered and most were optimistic about availability, although who knows how accurate that was. We finally were able to talk to the Apple store at Stonestown mall and they told us to come on down, they had plenty of the iphones.
At the mall, we were expecting a big frenzy with packed parking lots and lines reaching outside, but there was none of that. The crowds were relatively light and parking easy. Inside the mall, there was a line from the Apple store that led down a few stores and plenty of security. We tried to get into the line, which looked quite reasonable, but were told that the end of the line was outside. Our hearts sunk a bit, did the Apple employee forget about the outside line? When we got outside the line was just us, and we were quickly escorted back in. Things were starting to look promising.
While in line, we chatted with a fellow who was in line at an AT&T store that sold out, he was between number 40-50 in line. We tried to get an idea about how many had been sold already, about how many the store, had but there was only speculation. The security guard thought he heard that there were 600 phones, but didnít know how many had been sold. As the line slowly made progress, we could see the apple employees taking head counts of the people in line. These guys looked organized, at least they would probably let us know if the inventory got scarce. They did say that the 8gb model was outselling the 4gb by a significant margin.
About 15 minutes later, we were at the entrance of the store, escorted in, and I was clicked in at buying the 373rd iPhone of the day. Buying the iPhone at the Apple store gets you a nice iPhone bag, nothing for the AT&T folks.