iPhone Launch, Now and Then…

5:45 a.m. at the Apple Store in the Maine Mall

There are about 20 of us lined up along a red-velvet rope in front of the store, two hours before the doors open at 8 a.m. for the launch of iPhone 4S.  Since this is not my first Apple rodeo, I know the drill and am the only person here with a chair.

The scene was very different at my first iPhone launch, the original one on June 29, 2007 at the Galleria Mall in Cambridge, Mass. The store opened at 5 p.m., and I showed up at the mall 14 hours before that. That put me first in line for a great time, including an interview for an Italian TV show that I never saw. Six months before that, at MacWorld Expo, I’d seen the late Steve Jobs–hurts to write that–introduce the original iPhone. I remember with fondness how he toyed with the huge audience like a cat with a rodent. He showed three images, making it look as if Apple was going to introduce three new devices. When we realized we’d been had, that the phone, iPod and web browser would be all in one thing called an iPhone, the roar of delight was electric. Ah, those were the days!

…I was settling in for a leisurely writing session in my beach chair when the blue-shirted Apple team slid open the glass doors and came out to greet us with cheers, awkward hype, and a very organized system for prepping the sales. Each of us in line has had a chat with a rep, providing details of the phone(s) that we are here to buy. This gets us a card for each phone that we’ll present in the store, so I have one for Darlene’s white 16 GB model and my black 32 GB. We’ll both be switching from AT&T to Verizon, which we left four years ago because Verizon didn’t have the iPhone. I’ve been pleased with AT&T’s customer support, but the coverage is just too spotty. Sometimes in my studio in Cambridge I have to move to the window to keep a call from dropping.

So I’m glad that we happened to be in Maine for this iPhone launch. I was so excited that I ended up driving in the rain from Ocean Park to the Maine Mall yesterday at five a.m. I now call this recon. Not surprisingly, I was first in line, pleased with myself until I took a closer look at the poster in the window and saw that the launch was today.

There are now about 30 of us here in line, kept under control by one policeman.  The Apple team are chatting us up like it’s a cocktail party.  Darlene just called from bed to ask how it’s going. Since I have my two white cards, I was able to assure her that I’ll bring home the bacon this time, and she will have her new phone soon. I’ve been trying to get her excited about the Siri personal assistant, but she’s deeply skeptical, because of our uneven experience talking to our 2012 Ford Focus’s SYNC system.

There is something big missing here today, with the passing of Steve Jobs. Someone on Twitter suggested that iPhone 4S could mean “for Steve.” I’ll go with that.

I remember the first time I saw an Apple computer in 1984, when I was living in Wyoming. I was on a business trip to Cody and stopped by a computer store where I was able to type for a few minutes on a what was probably a “Fat Mac,” the 512K version. Compared with the IBM compatibles I’d looked at, the Mac’s screen was gorgeous. The font was elegant, thanks to a calligraphy class that Jobs audited at Reed College, I learned just recently. I was hooked and became an Apple fanatic until a corporate job detoured me to PC Land for a decade. In retirement, it was an iPod that lured me back, purchased at Radio Shack just for curiosity.  Loading the iTunes software on my Dell felt like I was visiting a foreign country that seemed oddly familiar, and beautiful. So I moved back to Apple and have been a happy citizen ever since.

Folks in line are friendly here in Maine, so I’m going to wrap this up and leave my blogging cocoon. Thank you Steve Jobs, wherever you are. I like to think the current New Yorker cover got it right, and that St. Peter checked you in on an iPad for your new digs.


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2 Responses to iPhone Launch, Now and Then…

  1. Mary says:

    Len, I am always so entertained by your “in-line” Apple adventures. I wish I had the stamina but am too old. It would be fun, however, to sit there with all my electronics, knowing that I would have a wi-fi signal from the store. Likely I’m switching to Sprint as soon as my daughter gets her Sprint iPhone and I can check the signal at my house. AT&T works great at my house but not at all at some other nearby places.

  2. Lois Edgerly says:

    Wonderful blog Len, the pictures are great. I loved the ones of steve Jobs at the pearly gates and you in your beach chair. With much love from your faithful number one fan. M . P.S. Long ago on August 30,1950 After a nurse left you all wrapped in a blanket in my arms, I proceeded to unwrap you so I could see just what you were like. I remember being so taken with your tiny little hands with tiny long slender fingers ,as I held them in my hands I thought,” beautiful creative hands, an artist?, a musician?, a writer. even an astronomer?…” my list was infinate and indeed, so it was to be. love you, M.

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