Almost like I was there

Inside the iPad launch-day hoopla
[Via Brainstorm Tech]

Even if you’ve seen it all before, it’s hard not to get caught up in the excitement

The double gauntlet. Photo: PED

A few minutes before the doors of Apple’s (AAPL) Fifth Avenue store are scheduled to open, weird noises — hoarse shouts and rebel yells — emerge from the big glass cube.

At the sound, hands holding LCD screens pop like dandelions out of the waiting throng, which by now must have swelled to at least 500 or 600.

Someone starts a countdown, a big cheer erupts, and suddenly we’re moving forward, headed toward a double gauntlet: Blue-shirted Apple employees on the right, clapping and cheering. Grim-faced camera crews on the left, trying to capture the madness on videotape.

And then we’re in, stumbling down the famous glass spiral staircase, greeted by a sea of blue shirts and still more cameras.

The actual purchase of the iPad couldn’t have been more efficient.

Down the spiral staircase. Photo: PED

9:05: I’m ushered to a station at the Genius Bar, where a friendly face asks me what model I want (16GB, $499). I’m handed a box from a big stack.

9:06: A second face, this one on a guy named Arlo, takes me aside, accepts my credit card and asks a few questions. (Accessories? No, thanks. $30 off on a two-year extension of my MobileMe account? Sure, why not. AppleCare protection plan? Not until I clear it with the powers that be.)

9:08: Arlo hands me his tricked-up iPod touch so I can scratch something resembling my signature with a blunt forefinger. He shows me the total: $618.41 for iPad, MobileMe and tax.

Gulp. OK.

Camcorders at the ready. Photo: PED

9:09: I have my iPad — or rather, Henry Luce’s — and a printed receipt for my expense report. A quick pit stop, and I’m on my way.

Outside, anybody with a white Apple bag is getting ambushed by the media. It’s a feeding frenzy. I do my bit for CNNMoney and head as quickly as I can for the nearest Starbucks.

Soon, but not until after I’ve filed this, I’ll get to crack open the shrink wrap and play with my — or rather, Time Inc.’s — iPad.

[More]

This is a great description. Elmer-Dewitt almost gave us a live blog of the event in New York. He had a reservation and was out of there in less than 10 minutes. Wow! How many other organizations could have so effectively dealt with this sort of crowd? I wonder how long it takes for those without a reserved iPad?

He had been in line since 6:15, when there were 136 people in line. By 8, the line was about 300. There were people who traveled internationally to be in New York in order to get in line.Not may products could do this. One of them said this:

Vermaak, who coaches rugby for Harlequins, one of the oldest rugby clubs in South Africa, says he’s got the best reason of anyone here to buy an iPad. He’s going to store video clips of rugby games on it so he can show the players what they’re doing right and what they’re doing wrong.

“You wait,” he says. “In a few years, all the NFL coaches will be carrying iPads.”

Instead of taking Polaroids and printing them out, the assistant coaches could just send them to the iPads along the sidelines during a game, perhaps permitting live streaming in slow motion of previous plays. Not bad.

One thought on “Almost like I was there

  1. The following was posted on a site that had interviewed people who camped out in NY for the iPad.

    “Very interesting! More females than males, and the females really vary in age! Wow, the demographic for the iPad really is quite wide. Okay, okay, small sample, but really, how many non-geek guys wait in line with mom and grandma? That doesn’t happen with the iPhone or any other device. Even this tiny sample hints at something else is afoot.

    Posted By KenC, Gardiner, ME and Shanghai, China: April 2, 2010 10:52 PM”

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