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iPhone Mania

If you want to get work done during the next couple of days, don’t get an iPhone. It’ll suck you in like a sailor to a siren’s song. I’m now separated from My Precious long enough to get back to work and write some thoughts about my experience on iPhone launch day.

I’m not going to gush about the iPhone’s alluring features or rant on its glaring omissions. There’s already a billion reviews out all over internet, and another billion to come out today. Rather, I’m going focus on what truly distinguishes iPhone from its competitors: the experience. And this experience doesn’t begin when you open the box, it begins before you even buy it.

So here’s how it went at the Apple Store in San Francisco at Stonestown Mall:

The line

Ryan, Thomas, and I get to the store at noon, with fresh In-N-Out burgers and fries. My two brothers were already in line towards the front. (we went to the back and did not cut in line).

To keep the lines from getting cranky, Apple assigned cheery line managers to entertain the crowd. They handed out free bottled water, Starbucks, and even cookies. Every couple of hours, store employees ran trivia contests to win prizes. I didn’t get any right. :-(

6pm!

At 6pm, a team of security guards and Apple employees escorted us into the store, making sure no one got ambushed or trampled. As we waited right before the entrance, store employees came by with iPhones to let us touch and marvel before we entered the store.

Once you pass the threshold of Apple’s doors, a throng of employees greet you, smiling, clapping, congratulating you as you enter the world of iPhone. I felt like a king on his way to coronation. And for a $600 dollar phone, this is the fanfare one would expect.

The actual purchase was quick, orderly, and friendly. The iPhone even came in it’s own specially designed bag.

Leaving the store

As you make your way back out, Apple employees were ready to answer further questions. One even offered to take group photos for us. When we finally exit, security officers offered to escort us to our car. Nobody touches my iPhone!

This experience won’t be a surprise to existing Apple fans. But to anyone who’s used to shopping at megastores such as CompUSA, the difference is clear. It’s not about the features, it’s about making the entire experience enjoyable, from buying to owning to using. This is why Apple Stores exist. This is why Apple fans are so devoted.

As promised here are some hi-res photos:

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Did you buy an iPhone? How was your experience?

11 Comments

  • Sean

    gravatarJul 2, 2007
    12:59 pm

    Wow. I don’t think there has ever been a time when I looked back and wished I had waited in line.

  • Ethan Bodnar

    gravatarJul 2, 2007
    2:15 pm

    Great coverage of the event. Would love to have you as part of iPhone the Book. We are collecting storie and blog posts and itll be up on LuLu in a couple weeks. I will email you more information.

  • Julian Schrader

    gravatarJul 2, 2007
    2:31 pm

    I want one!

    –¦I’ll have to wait some more months until I can get one here in Germany :-(

  • Chris

    gravatarJul 2, 2007
    7:08 pm

    iLove iPhone!

  • james

    gravatarJul 2, 2007
    9:40 pm

    I went to the apple store out here in atlanta and my experiance was nearly the same minus the wait (i went saturday morning).

    I love my phone and its true as I felt like a complete waste of space today, but I just can’t seem to peel myself away from it. Speaking of you are my first official comment from my iPhone

  • Dan S.

    gravatarJul 3, 2007
    1:25 am

    I avoided the Friday line and resigned myself to not getting a phone in the first few weeks. At 1am on Saturday, I learned about Apple’s inventory tracker web site, and noticed that my local store would have some when they opened at 9am on Saturday. I got there at 9:05, there were very few people there. I got two 8 GB phones, and as the guy handed them to me, another guy radioed to the staff that all the 8 GBs were gone. I was back in my car at 9:07.

    Activation was mostly smooth. My number transferred from Verizon in a few hours. My wife’s number didn’t transfer until the next day.

  • Dennis

    gravatarJul 3, 2007
    6:40 am

    I went with a friend on Friday to the Cleveland store. There were no security guards, throngs of people and not enough prototypes to go around. Most of the people were looking, not buying.

    We asked an employee to see one, as we were ready to buy an 8GB model.

    After about fifteen minutes, we left with the iPhone. Not five minutes into the walk back to the car, two guys tried to pandhandle us for money. They yelled “yo iphone!” as we walked away.

    The experience was depressing and confirmed my cynical views on even the “nicest” Eastside Cleveland shopping center. Same old, same old.

  • Groovymarlin

    gravatarJul 3, 2007
    9:17 am

    Awww, everyone in the photos looks so happy — and cute! Congrats on getting the iPhone. It is quite drool-worthy, and I am sorely tempted, but I think I’m going to wait until the next version. Thank you for sharing yours with the blogosphere! :)

  • Daryl

    gravatarJul 3, 2007
    10:58 pm

    I ultimately went to the Apple Store, South Coast Plaza and it was a 5 minute wait on Friday night at around 8:15 p.m. or so. I went to three different ATT stores first and was really glad that I ended up back at the Apple store. It was, by far, the easiest cell phone purchase I have ever made.

  • jos

    gravatarJul 5, 2007
    7:22 am

    awesome shots …. im still kind of jealous that i havent played into the hype or into att service and gave in and got one… oh well

  • jpmohr

    gravatarJul 19, 2007
    6:55 pm

    got my iPhone the Monday after the release at the apple store in Towson Maryland. Didn’t have to wait in line, had it within five minutes. Easiest phone purchase yet:) I love my iPhone and so does everyone who doesn’t have one. How did I ever live without my iPhone.