First in Line for an iPad

Apple Store at Cherry Creek Mall, Denver

I hadn’t planned to be here this early.  But when I woke up at 3:20 a.m. I knew there was no point in trying to sleep. So I arrived at the mall parking garage at 4:30 a.m. and saw someone walk in just before 5.  I scooted in myself, relieved to find no one in the “Reservations” line outside the door of the store.  There is a separate line for walk-ins, and Daryl and his wife Rhonda are first there.  He’s a retired funeral home owner, and they drove two hours to get here from northeastern Colorado.  The second guy in the Reservations line is named Jim Kinch from Denver. He’s reading a Kindle DX, which is impressive.  He says he thinks he’ll still use it even when he’s got his iPad.

I see Robert Scoble has been in line all night at the Apple Store in Palo Alto.  It’s easy being an early adopter in Denver. “We’re not really waiting in line to get them,” Scoble told “We’re here to celebrate geekdom. It’s always a fun party.” My sentiments exactly.

Though I might put it differently and say I’m here to celebrate innovation.  What I love about what I’ve seen of the iPad is that no one has seen anything like it before.  I had a Compaq tablet computer back in the day, but it was a clunky, unusable beast with a fat electric pen that used AAAA batteries, as I remember.  This thing is the Kindle to that era’s RocketBook. And because of the wild creativity in apps that it will unleash, there is no telling what will appear on that sleek, multitouch screen.

Of course I’m very interested in how the iPad will fare as an eBook reader.  Amazon has a huge head start, and they’re not slowing down.  Last night they announced their Kindle for iPad app, ready for business today. Today’s first iPad users will have 60,000 titles to choose from at Apple’s new iBooks Store – and half of them will be out-of-copyright free books – while over at the Kindle Store they will find more than 450,000 titles.   We all expect a new Kindle to come out later this year, with a color touchscreen that’s still reflective, i.e. easy on the eyes compared to staring into a flashlight, which is how an LCD screen seems to me after a while.  But even if the iPad topples the Kindle as hardware, Amazon will keep selling Kindle books, which was the plan from the beginning, I suspect.

But back to creativity.  One of the most interesting exchanges I’ve seen in the last days of the pre-iPad Era was a rant by Cory Doctorow bemoaning the way kids can’t hack into an iPad or much else these days, followed by a graceful reply from John Gruber.  John cited a 13-year-old who had pitched him a new iPhone app as an example of how the current environment gives smart geeky inventors an even better sandbox than existed a generation ago with the Apple II.  Here’s the kid’s message to Gruber:

I am 13 years old and a big fan of your site. I just made an app called iChalkboard. This is my second app, but my first iPad app. It allows you to simply sketch things out. Check it out: If you need any more info or a promo code, feel free to ask.

I hope you like it as much as I do.

I’m with Gruber on this one. Amazon’s team must have worked round the clock to launch the Kindle app in time for today. Meanwhile, somewhere in Nebraska, another 13-year-old kid has an idea…

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