My plan was simple. I’d go straight from work to the Apple Store and hope that they’d have enough iPhones left. As the workday went on, I heard reports of hundreds of people waiting in line and my hopes of getting an iPhone seemed to dwindle. Without any solid numbers on how many iPhones were available, I began to look at Plan B: the AT&T Company Stores. These were few and far in between, two were at local malls, but there was a lone AT&T standalone store, in the middle of an industrial zone that was likely to be missed by the casual consumer. I was ready to make my trip to the AT&T store, but as I made my way to the parking lot, my boss asked me for a ride home. I glanced at my watch: 5:40PM. I had to make a quick decision: iPhone or boss? It was an easy decision: Drive the boss home first.
It’s easy to lose sight of the fact between hype and reality, luxury and utility. There’s no doubt that if we wanted the phone with the best value, we’d all be going for the “we give you cash back” mobile phones. Just recently, Amazon had a promo for a Motorola RAZR V3xx which ended up giving you over $100 back in cash rebates. The iPhone isn’t about value. It’s about luxury. It’s the reason people want a tuned BMW 335i or Z06 when a Toyota Yaris will get you from point A to B just fine.
Without the media frenzy or the hustle and bustle of the local Apple Store, it was easy to strike up a conversation with the other people waiting in line. There were only about 50 of us at that AT&T store. In my part of the line, there was a businessman who had been using a Treo. His company would cover the cost of service – he just needed to pay for the phone. He had his Bluetooth earpiece in hand as a Zune on his belt. There was a pseudo-techie who would talk about how slow the EDGE network and how the iPhone’s battery couldn’t be upgraded. There was a young woman, probably in her early twenties, who was in college or grad school. She was excited about merging the iPod and her phone into a single device – she was still using a 2G iPod. Of course, the fact that she would have the iPhone early was icing on the cake. Behind me was a young man, probably still in college. He was carrying his Sprint HTC Mogul. He still wasn’t sure whether he really wanted an iPhone or not (he was standing in line though…) but boasted of having sold a launch PlayStation 3 for $3,000 on eBay. Finally, there was a couple in their 40’s. It was the wife who wanted the iPhone. She was immediately enamored by the iPhone the first time she saw it, and it was pretty clear that this was an impulse buy. For her, it was the sleek screen and buttonless operation that impressed her the most. Her husband was clearly being dragged to wait in line with her. He astutely pointed out that there would be no line if they sold the iPhone throughout the day – the 6pm was simply a stunt to inflate the appearance of demand. In the small parking lot of 20 spots or so? Current-gen S-class, GL-class, A8, 5-series, 3-series, and M45 sedans. I ended up getting the second to last 8GB iPhone at that AT&T store.