Friday, June 29, 2007

How I ended up buying the iPhone

So I get off work thinking that I'll just pop in to the Apple Store and check out the iPhone. You could say I was on the fence about it. I try making my way up to the Fifth Avenue Apple Store and see an excited crowd of people standing under some scaffolding, which turned out to be an AT&T store. I'm at the end of the line and happen to stand next to the guys on the front, who'd been on line since 2PM (iPhone went on sale at 6PM). It's about 8 so I think it's pretty futile so I keep on moving to the 59[8]th Street.

When I get there, I see a good number of people streaming by carrying iPhone bags (yes, special iPhone bags). One was actually walking towards the glass cube of an Apple Store. This unlucky guy got the iPhone but lost his wallet in the excitement. When we get to the GM building, which overlooks the Apple Store, I suggest that he talk to the journalists hanging around with their cameras. His would make a great story. The line folded over itself on the sidewalk not much differently than at the AT&T store, but it was moving noticeably faster. Apple had employees enthusiastically greeting and welcoming customers down through the glass doors and stairs at a controlled rate. Overall, I think it took about 15 minutes to get 75 people into the store.

Now, if you were on the fence at all, you probably wouldn't survive what came next. After spending 15 minutes online (which was pretty good), you wind your way down the spiral staircase right into an Apple Store [employee ]ushering you onto the line to pay for the iPhone. On finding out the iPhone displays were all the way on the other side of the store, I figured it was either get an iPhone right that instant or get back to the end of the line. That's pretty much all it took to get me to fork up my credit card and say "8 gigabytes".

I then spent the next half-hour or so testing out the iPhone. It was smaller than I imagined and more rugged. The screen was very nice and crisp and I was even able to call home to tell my parents what I had just done. I browsed to this page, checked my Gmail, watched the QuickTime guided tour on (yes, embedded videos work), and checked out pretty much all the standard features. It was very close to what I expected, and not really much more. I found the iPod interface a departure (for all the right reasons) from the one we're all used to. Nothing was disappointing, and if anything, it was in how large my thumbs were compared to my index finger. Some quirks: the screen only rotates in one-direction, you have to bring up the keyboard after you rotate the screen in Safari to get a landscape keyboard.

And, the keyboard.

How was the keyboard? It was very good at correcting my mistakes, but it will require some practice. Practice I'm not sure I'm going to get. The iPhone comes with a 14-day return policy and a 10% restocking fee for opened boxes. I'll have to sleep on it. The killer features like an X11 unix terminal are just not there yet. VI would be perfect and doesn't require arrow keys or ctrl and alt keys. I have to give it to Apple, though. They had enough iPhones. I was slightly worried that the lines to actually buy stuff tapered off by the time I left, but there is hope. Around 8:45 PM when I walked out flanked on both sides by cheering store employees (not kidding), there were still about 50 people online waiting to check out the iPhone.


Vivs said...

How was the weekend test drive?

Will said...

I wish there was one! It was more of an agonizing decision not to keep it. There are so many good reasons to have it, but the big obstacles in order of importance are 1) my current iPod 2) the lack of immediate features (which will be remedied soon, I'm sure). Number 1 is a problem. I'm thinking I might end up carrying both to justify both purchases. Number 2 is more of a principled stand. I know I can trust Apple, but I'm trying to tone down my fanaticism.

Will said...

I think I'll keep it if I have a good week, though.

JKC said...

I still can't believe you returned the iPhone...