Date: Friday, September 25th, 2015, 09:06
Category: iPhone, News, retail
It was a good iPhone launch this year over in Berkeley, California and albeit the overnight camp out numbers for the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus apparently weren’t as high as last year’s, the event still drew an enthusiastic crowd that spent both the previous afternoon and the night before.
This year proved different, as I decided to finally spend the full night as opposed to waking up abysmally early the morning of the launch and seeing where this put me. Having picked up a $20 foam sleep pad from REI, I chucked this, my camera, my sleeping bag and two pillows into the car and drove off to the Apple Store.
Upon arriving, I hunkered down with several other people who were comparing iPhone features, calling plans and talking about the handset’s upgraded camera and what they expected out of it. The general consensus wasn’t that this year’s upgrades were revolutionary, but that these were upgrades were worth snagging. Surprisingly, a number of line attendees were upgrading from the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, which caught me off guard to a degree.
The night itself passed quickly, the foam pad allowing me to catch a few quick hours of sleep at a time without waking up in pain and wondering why I thought sleeping on the concrete with only a sleeping bag for padding was a good idea… Sometime around 4:30 AM, I woke up to find my neighbor’s small chihuahua/maltese mix that had been sitting in her lap all night staring intently down at me. Unsure of what to make of this, I nodded and went back to sleep.
The dog doesn’t have to freak out about the iCloud going down or malware occasionally finding its way into the App Store and is the wiser creature for it.
Sometime around 7 AM, things began happening. Apple had sent people out with a cart filled with snacks and water literally every two hours overnight and changed up to water, coffee and snacks while representatives went around explaining the iPhone Upgrade Program as well as the benefits of AppleCare for the iPhone. As the hour approached 8 AM, they then sent out representatives out to the growing line to take people’s reservations and digitally compare what they had in inventory.
I’ve said it before that Apple trains its retail employees to be like the overenthusiastic camp counselor you had when you were a kid. Sometimes they tone it down a bit, but this year it seemed to be in full swing. With over 30 employees on hand between the floor and the Genius Bar and chants, cheers and hollers emanating from the store, you knew you were in for a hefty dose of perky, which they delivered. And not that it’s completely out of place for them to be doing the line dance from Soul Train prior to opening the store, complete with high-fives, it’s just something new to wake up to prior to 8 AM.
Upon entering the store and receiving a handshake and high-five, they were able to quickly pull the space grey 16 GB iPhone 6s on an AT&T plan that I wanted from the shelves, get it out and begin confirming ID and upgrade eligibility.
This is where things also hit a brick wall.
Somewhere along the line, AT&T pulled its US$199 upgrade pricing for eligible users and instead began offering the iPhone at full price. I hadn’t heard about this, was caught off guard by it and opted for the 24 installment payment plan while muttering to myself on the way out, so it may be worth enquiring after if you’re headed in with the US$199 upgrade price that you’ve waited two years to redeem…
Even with this surprise, Apple’s iPhone launch day process has gotten even smoother than in previous years. The employees are friendly, the inventory was plentiful, they had what I needed and were able to get me out the door in 10 minutes.
I’m not sure what next year will bring or if I’ll camp out for an iPhone 7, but you can’t knock the good people, the relatively easy process in snagging a new iPhone and the wise canine that may know more than you at 4:30 in the morning.