iPad 2: The Wait and The Line

The Wait

When Steve Jobs announced iPad 2, I was immediately caught up in the reality distortion field: lighter! thinner! faster!

But what really got me was that the new device would be available a mere two weeks after the announcement. I was fully prepared to wait until mid-April before the device became available. Now, it was to be released on 11 March in the States. And I did not want to wait a day beyond the 11th.

OK, no problem. As I am currently working in New York during the week and flying back home to Chicago on Fridays, I figured I would pre-order and have it arrive on Friday. That’s how some people ordered the iPhone 4. However, Apple decided to change the rules a bit: no pre-orders UNTIL the 11th and in-store pick up starting at 5:00 pm local time. Uh, oh: I am on a plane at that point!

What to do, what to do? First, I asked my wife if she’d be willing to stand in line. After all, she’d benefit too: she’d get an iPad 2. She immediately agreed. She asked what time should she get there? I suggested sometime after 2:00 pm. She offered to head to the mall right after lunch! Wow, this reality distortion field is stronger than I realized. Second, I would try to fly standby and get home earlier and meet her in line.

People lined up in front of the Apple Store

Front of the iPad 2 line

The Line

This is one of many reasons I love and embrace technology: not only could I see the available seats on my plane (and get on an earlier flight), that plane had in-flight WiFi. I used that, along with Google Voice, to text my wife and see how she was doing. She got to the mall a little after 1:00 pm and there were approximately 40 people in line already.

By the time I landed and drove to the store, the line had grown through the mall to one of the mall’s exits. By rough count, the line was around 200 people at 3:30 pm. I found my wife and joined her and several of her new friends. She introduced me to them and we all had a good time talking Apple products, why we were there, which model we were going to get, which apps are our favorites, etc. On top of that, both Apple and Starbucks were passing along drinks and snacks to everyone in line. Another person called one of the restaurants in the mall and they delivered dinner to him directly in line. This is why waiting in line is fun and worthwhile!

Side note: at 3:00 pm, the Apple store closed and black curtains were pulled across the front of the store.

iPad2 Reservation Cards

iPad 2 Reservation Cards

Around 4:20 pm, a couple of Apple store employees came out with white cards to hand to everyone in line. We surmised this was to ensure they had enough stock for everyone in line, as well as keep the “two per person” rule in place. When it was our turn, my wife and I each got two (I was picking up for some others by this point) and we were asked which models we wanted. We were told there were no guarantees we would get the model we wanted, but it was fairly likely as we were near the front.

After another 40 minutes, an announcement was made that the store was opening. A cheer went up and everyone started applauding. Approximately 30 people went into the store right away. After a few minutes, the first person with an iPad 2 in hand came out to another round of applause. As people exited the store, new people were let in. This worked fairly well and by 5:20 pm, my wife and I were inside with Melissa, our helpful Apple store employee.

The Northbrook, IL Apple Store Opens!

The Northbrook, IL Apple Store Opens!

She verified our order and took us towards the back of the store, where they had a counter full of iPads. Models were ordered by size, color and feature (WiFi/3G (Verizon or AT&T)). When we got there, Melissa told the gentleman behind the counter what we wanted and he pulled them out, except they were already out of the 64GB white WiFi-only model! My wife was disappointed, but willing to switch. They checked the stack again and found one white left!

After getting our devices, we were asked which type of covers and accessories we wanted. We both picked the red leather covers along with an HDMI adapter cable. At that point, we could have stayed for an in-store set up or gotten other Apple products, but we both wanted to depart and play with our new iPad 2s.

iPad2s in process of being purchased

iPad 2s in process of being purchased

A quick check out and we were on our way. We said goodbye to a few people in the store who were near us and departed to a restaurant close by to open up our new iPad 2s!

Side note: it was estimated that there were over 400 people in line around 5:00 pm. The line looped back and around a central sitting area near the store. By approximately 8:00 pm, there were no more iPad 2s in stock.

A security guard and Barry watch over the Apple Store

Ensuring no one gets away with my iPad 2