iPad Release Day - Austin, Texas

My day starts at 5:30 AM as I crawl out of bed. I usually get up at 9:30 AM so crawl is a good defining word. However, it isn’t long before I am out the door and headed toward the Apple Store at The Domain, about 10 miles from my house. This is a great store with friendly staff and a wonderful new manager named Johny Gwin who is all charged up about the release of the iPad. 

This store is located in an outdoor mall that also includes apartments so no one is allowed to line up for the 9 AM opening until 7 AM. My plan is to grab one of the limited parking places in front of the store so I can be early in line.

A quick stop at McDonald’s for breakfast and me, my iPhone, and my credit card, are on the way. I pre-ordered a 16 GB model. In addition to getting my own iPad I intend to talk to as many people as possible and find out why they are buying their iPads, how they plan to use them, and if they are enjoying the whole “only Apple fans understand” event.

I finished my breakfast sandwich and Coke (this is Texas, we drink Cokes for breakfast) just as I drove up. There were parking spots left in front of the store and a couple of dozen people were hanging around outside the store. As I approached the store on foot I realized there were two lines, one for those with pre-orders and those without.  I was number 5 in the pre-order line. Everyone else was in the “I didn’t plan ahead” line.  As long as I was there the lines stayed about 3:1 with more people in the second group.

I spent time talking to people in the line to see how they expected to use their new iPads. Paul, who didn’t want to give me his last name was the first one in line. He wants a 64GB model that he plans to instantly fill with movies. He didn’t have a pre-order and got to the store at 4:00 AM.  Keith Patrico arrived soon after. Keith, who was wearing an Apple shirt,  did pre-order his, but he wanted to be first in line. You can always tell those who have participated in these events before. Keith had a nice comfortable chair, a warm quilt, and he was napping in spite of the crowd.

And speaking of crowds, there were about 100 people in line when I left, iPad in hand.

Geneive Bailer was there to buy an iPad for her mother’s birthday.  Mom is switching from a PC to a Mac. Geneive definitely gets daughter points for this.  A lot of the people I talked to plan to use their new iPads when they travel. They were among the most enthusiastic buyers I talked to.  Most will be using it instead of their current laptops, but all had somewhat different reasons. The most frequent reasons were working and reading books.  Collin Greentaner who is getting a 32 GB is a perfect example. He travels frequently as part of his job and is really excited about the idea of carrying something as small as the iPad that will still allow him to work or relax on airplanes.

The other most repeated reason for buying an iPad was replacing a laptop. This one surprised me a bit, but the people who plan to do this all have desktops and feel that they can function perfectly fine with the iPad. Both Bill Jones, who got a 16 GB today and has a 32GB 3G on order, and Micah Jackson who got a 32GB today, are very comfortable with their decisions.

And then there are the developers. West Decker is a perfect example. He got a 32GB today and has a 64GB 3G on order. He, and other developers like him will use their iPads for their development work, but they all grinned and they were looking forward to the fun part of having one as well.

No one that I interviewed today mentioned gaming as an important element of their decision. Some mentioned they were looking forward to using their iPad for reading.

So those are the reasons people seemed to have for being in line. The lines were friendly. People were excited. As always happens I made new friends. The Apple store employees brought out water, and coffee was set up and available for us. Every other person was on their phone (iPhone) at one point or another while we waited. In short it was a typical waiting experience for a new Apple product event.

I would like to compliment Johny Gwin and his staff for the excellent organization and set up inside the store. When I entered I was met by an associate who stayed with me while I purchased my iPad and case. He then took me to another associate who set it up for me. I was in and out in 10 minutes flat. 

Following are 3 pictures from our morning. I hope other iPad release events went as well as ours did. Now I get to go play with mine.

The Crowd Waits At The Apple Store At The Domain in Austin Texas

Nancy Gravley Interviews West Decker About His iPad Plans Using Retro Recorder On Her iPhone

It’s 9:00 AM And The Doors Are Open - The Staff Are Ready