It's iPad day: Long(ish) lines from coast to coast, but smooth sailing so far
Play Video CBS 2 New York – Fans Line Up For Apple's New iPad
| Well, it looks like at least someone wants the iPad. A crowd of several hundred lined up outside Apple's flagship "cube" store on Fifth Avenue for a chance to snag the new tablet Saturday, with scores of other line-sitters waiting their turn at Apple Stores from Pasadena, California, to Knoxville, Tennessee. No, the lines weren't as long as those we'd seen (and experienced) for the iPhone in previous years, but apparently they were no less enthusiastic, and so far, at least, no train wrecks.|
Philip Elmer-DeWitt of Fortune's Apple 2.0 blog joined the line of a little over a hundred outside Apple's mammoth glass cube in Manhattan in the wee hours Saturday morning; shortly before the doors opened at 9 a.m., he estimated that the line had swelled to between 500 and 600 eager customers—not to mention the army of TV news trucks and plenty of blue-shirted, applauding Apple employees.
Despite the crowd, the "actual purchase of the iPad couldn't have been more efficient," wrote Elmer-DeWitt, adding that the entire process, from picking an iPad version at the Genius Bar to walking out the door with a tablet, took a grand total of about four minutes. (Unlike the iPhone, the Wi-Fi-only iPad doesn't need to be activated for use on a carrier, eliminating a major and time-consuming headache for customers.)
Elsewhere, the iPad lines were more modest, with KGO-TV reporting a mere 16 people in line at the San Jose, California, Apple Store on Friday night. Then again, their ranks were sure to swell as the night wore on (there reportedly weren't that many people at the Fifth Avenue store on Friday night, either), and those brave enough (or foolish enough, depending on your point of view) to tough it out in line got a rare treat—an appearance by Apple co-genius Steve Wozniak, who ended up getting in line, too.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reported "dozens" of people waiting outside of the Grove and Pasadena Apple stores; the Unofficial Apple Weblog had snapshots from the Apple Store in Knoxville, where about 60 die-hards waited patiently; and the New York Times found a tweeted snapshot from a line-sitter in Austin, Texas, where several dozen people were queued up.
Overall, the iPad lines appeared to be much shorter than the monstrous iPhone lines of years past; then again, Apple didn't allow preorders or reservations for the original iPhone in 2007 or the iPhone 3G a year later. This year, of course, iPad customers were able to preorder weeks in advance and even make in-store reservations for launch day, a factor which surely cut down on the size of the crowds. By Monday morning, we'll have a better idea of how iPad sales fared during the big launch weekend.
I've yet to see any reports of iPad sellouts; Apple clerks at NYC's Fifth Avenue store were telling those in line that they had plenty of iPads on hand, even for those who didn't have reservations, Fortune's Elmer-DeWitt blogged. Then again, the Manhattan store typically has the largest inventory of all Apple stores, so I wouldn't be surprised to hear that some of the smaller locations (not to mention the iPad-selling Best Buys, which were rumored to have only a few iPads each) run dry before closing time.
As for me, I'm still waiting for the UPS truck to arrive with my preordered iPad; once it's here, I'll post some unboxing photos and dash out some quick first impressions—both the good and the bad. (In case you're wondering, I bought my iPad with my own hard-earned money, and I'm keeping the receipt, just in case I'm not happy). Stay tuned.
So, anyone waiting in line for an iPad? Are the iPad line-sitters brave, devoted, or just plain nuts?