NEWS ANALYSIS: eWEEK columnist Wayne Rash decided to brave the lines during the first morning of sales for the new iPad. Here's what he found.
It was about 7:15 a.m. the
first day of sales of the new iPad March 16 and the line at the Apple store
in Fairfax, Va., was already more than 100 people deep. They were orderly and
friendly as an Apple employee passed out
vouchers for the iPad people wanted
. The idea was that the store employees would know
immediate what iPad you wanted, select it from the immense stack at the back of
the store and get you on your way as quickly as possible.
The same Apple employees
were pushing a cart loaded with refreshments, so you could have coffee or water
while you waited. It was like airline service, but without the attitude and
without the spilled coffee in your lap. I asked the woman who was first in line
what she planned to do with
her new iPad
"I dont know," she said. "My husband thinks Im crazy."
I asked others in line.
"Because its cool," was a common answer. Perhaps the second most
common was, "because my wife took mine and I need one." A few people
mentioned educational uses. Buyers seemed split between
the AT&T version of the iPad and the Verizon Wireless version
I asked one future iPad
owner why he decided on the AT&T version. "I have AT&T for my
phone," he said. "It just makes sense."
Upstairs at the Verizon
Experience store in Fair Oaks Mall, the line was more subdued, and seemed to
consist of a larger proportion of business purchasers. There, the first person
in line was a radiologist who needed the improved resolution for viewing X-rays
in his continuing education class. He also thought he could use it in
conjunction with his daughters sports activities.
Inside the Verizon store
after it opened, I noticed a large number of people buying multiple iPads. One
person had a stack of four devices, apparently one for each member of his
family. A Verizon store employee was on hand as each customer entered the store
to help with the purchase process and help the customers get their device
activated on Verizons 4G Long-Term Evolution (LTE) network.
Back downstairs at the Apple
store, it was now nearly 9 a.m., and the line was still there. Apple employees
were chatting with customers, still passing out refreshments and pairing each
customer with an Apple salesperson waiting inside the store entrance. The line
was shorter, but not as short as Id expected. People kept joining the line,
apparently stopping by to pick up a new iPad on the way to work.
Finally, I joined the line,
was handed my voucher, offered refreshments and chatted with the Apple employee
that Id been chatting with all along anyway. The line moved quickly, and in
minutes I was introduced to an Apple salesperson. Hi, Im Ian, the young man
with the blue Apple T-shirt said. He took my voucher and said, Follow me.