iPad Mania at Park Meadows Mall near Denver

There was a constant and healthy line of about 50 people as iPad customers were metered into the Apple store at Park Meadows Mall in Centennial, Colorado — near Denver.

I arrived at the Apple store at about 10:15 am and there were two lines. The line for on-the-spot sales was about 50 people and stayed at that length as they were metered into the store. The line for reserved iPads had evidently cleared out - or hadn’t yet built up because it was empty, and I was able to enter the store within about 5-8 minutes after arriving.

The first thing an Apple sales person did was look up my name in the reservation list, with her iPhone, and give me a special reserve card, marked with just a number and “64 GB.” That led me to believe that there as no specific box with my name on it, merely inventory on hand to cover the reservations previously made. 

Park Meadows 1

The line continued to the right.  About 50 people.

Because the two lines were kept on a side corridor of the Mall, we had to cross the concourse to get into a second smaller line right in front of the store. The two lines remained separate at the store entrance.

There, I met an Apple business representative who introduced himself. Apple wants to engage any business people who may need any kind of assistance, not just with the iPad. I told him that I’m just a freelance writer, and he said, “That’s okay!” So I gave him my business card, and he said Apple business people will be contacting me. I’ll report on that when it happens.

I asked the store manager, who was walking about, keeping an eye on things, if it would be okay to take pictures, and she gave me the go ahead. One of the staff snapped a picture of us. Bad picture (of me only!) thanks to the Mall’s skylights. Kimberly is great.

Kimberly and John

Kimberly and John

By the time I was done with my business rep, it was time to go enter the store. Each customer is paired with a sales rep - mine was Josh - who cleverly walked me past the iPad cases and showed me a good one from Incase designs. It’s a leather portfolio that doubles as an adjustable stand. Along with my wife’s Apple Bluetooth keyboard, I’m pretty much all set.

Then we picked up the 64 GB iPad in the back by the Genius Bar, and went to a side counter where we totaled up the bill. I always add AppleCare to my Apple products, so I added that in to the total: US$100 for an extra two years (correction one year) of warranty coverage and telephone support. That brought the total coverage to three (two) years. I figured that since this was a brand new product, it would be a good idea anyway. My wife, will eventually get it as a hand-me-down.

The last thing Josh did was take me to one of the demo iPads on the tables up front and show me how to set up an e-mail account. Basically, it’s just like the iPhone. You go into settings, then e-mail preferences and pick the provider. Then fill in the fields. I figured it would be like that, but I wanted to see how Josh would handle it. He was great.

Park Meadows 2

Casual customers hadn’t shown up yet

The Park Meadows store looked about as busy as it is on any Saturday morning — maybe a tad less because the special lines probably scared some casual customers away — and it was early for many Denver shoppers. That meant there was room to move about without feeling as if one were in a mob scene. That made the buying experience a little nicer. Even so, it was a busy atmosphere. All told, I think it was 20 minutes from the time I arrived until I had my iPad and walked out of the store.

While a busy morning, it wasn’t as crazy as the iPhone 3GS launch when I counted over 1,000 people in line, out the Mall entrance and around the side for hundreds of feet.

Next, of course, I’ll be messing around with iWork, Netflix, Chess programs, PCalc Lite, and a whole bunch of other iPad apps.