On January 9, 2007 at the Macworld Conference & Expo, Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced the production of the iPhone. Marketed by Apple as the â€œdo-everything phoneâ€, the iPhone is a phone handset, Internet navigator and media player all in one. After 6 months of hype, it has finally hit store shelves.
Appleâ€™s latest and arguably most anticipated product became available for purchase at 6:00 PM, Friday, June 29th. There were 83 retail locations in Southern Californiaâ€”23 Apple stores and 60 AT&T storesâ€”where gadget gurus could be among the first to get their hands on the coveted device.
My quest for an iPhone, (not for myself, but for my boss,) began at 10:00 AM Friday morning. I arrived at the Apple store on the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, California, expecting a crowd, but not prepared for the 150+ person line that had already formed outside the store.
As I walked nearly a block to the end of the line, I noticed people were passing the time by playing cards and board games, some were reading, others were surfing the web via laptops and a few teenagers were heckling the street performer that was strumming his guitar on the bench across the way. Without the comfort of a lawn chair, umbrella or Igloo cooler, I sat down on the curb, and settled in for the eight-hour wait.
Bored, hot and thirsty, it wasnâ€™t long before I began toying with the idea of spending the day at the beach and just telling my boss theyâ€™d sold out of the phones by the time Iâ€™d reached the register. I quickly dismissed the notion, but decided to try my luck at the AT&T store a few blocks away. I jumped up and literally sprinted to 808 Wilshire Boulevard, where to my delight, there were no more than 20 people in line. By then, it was 11:30 AM . . .
Over the next six and a half hours I chatted with a retired School Teacher, an unemployed 19 year-old sporting a Rolex and $300 Nikes, and a Web Designer and his trophy wifeâ€”all loyal iEnthusiasts, who never questioned whether the iPhone would justify the wait or its price tag. (The 4GB model costs $499, while its 8GB counterpart retails for $599 and neither is eligible for insurance.)
As the day went on, the line continued to grow. The store manager came out to greet and thank us for coming. Motorists honked and taunted us, shouting â€œiDorks!â€ as they drove past. Pedestrians stopped to inquire about the line and laughed when they discovered the wait was for a phone. One woman asked if they were giving the phones away. She was shocked to hear they weren't, and asked if we were getting a discount for waiting. When I told her we were waiting and paying full-price, she laughed and said, "Well, I hope the darn thing does laundry!" I chuckled, but was beginning to lose my sense of humor about the situation.
When 6:00 PM rolled around, I was hungry, dehydrated and sunburned. The store manager opened the doors...letting in a hand-full of customers at a time. The first group emerged about 20 minutes later, clutching their plastic AT&T bags as if they were full of gold.
By the time I got inside, it was already 6:30. I told the cashier I wanted the 8GB model and waited as he rang up my sale. The system kicked him out twice before completing my transaction, and then took another 10 minutes to process my credit card payment. I wondered if I was getting a preview of things to come. It was 7:05 PM by the time I had my boss's new doodad in hand. I walked out of the store, feeling like I'd found a Golden Ticket...for somebody else.
Over the weekend, I wondered if my boss was using his phone and if it lived up to its hype.
The verdict was in Monday morning. During a six-minute conversation with my boss, the reception was spotty and our call was even dropped. A survey of the other "iDorks" in the office revealed that they too were disappointed with the mediocre reception and customer service at AT&T. (The customer service department was closed Sunday, two days after their biggest product launch ever.)
Bottom line, while the iPhone has revolutionized the smart-phone industry with its sleek design and superior software, AT&T's service leaves a lot to be desired--so much, in fact that the wait for the iPhone continues, indefinitely for this consumer.
Copyright © 2010 Phoenix
iWaited: My Pursuit of an iPhone
Copyright © 2010 Phoenix
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