My Victorious Apple Store Experience, and a Glimpse at Boston’s First iPad MPG

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Bill Ghormley, one of Xconomy’s own business development samurais, who lives in Back Bay. Bill, who was out “walking his car” (moving it between metered spots), knew from my Tweets that I was standing in the Apple line, and he stopped to say hi. He took the picture of me on the previous page.

Before opening the doors, Apple staff gathered for a pep rally.

Before opening the doors, Apple staff gathered for a pep rally.

Apple folks kept the people in line liberally supplied with coffee, bottled water, and snacks (thanks guys!), which made the time go by faster. Before we knew it, people inside the store started removing the blackout curtains they’d installed to keep us from seeing the interior, which, of course, they’d reconfigured overnight for the iPad launch. At about 8:30 a.m., all of the people working the morning shift came down the spiral glass staircase and had a pep rally. I was stunned by their numbers—there must have been 100 or 120 people working the store. Nick explained that it was an “all hands on deck” day, since Apple wants to process iPad buyers as quickly as possible. The store manager, a really nice guy named Joe, gave a pep talk, followed by a lot of clapping and fist pumping—it really is amazing how enthusiastic most Apple employees are about their work. Then they all disappeared to their stations.

RaizlabsAt a couple of minutes before 9:00 a.m., to the crowd’s great delight, Joe threw open the store’s huge glass doors, and people from the reservations line started filing in, with TV crews watching and everyone else snapping pictures with their iPhones. The Apple people have this down to a science: Inside the store was a line of Apple employees—I guess they’re all called “Geniuses” now. Joe would match up one employee with one customer, and together they’d march to the counter to pull out an iPad or head upstairs to browse the accessories.

The reason I say Joe is a really nice guy is that at about 9:15 he started letting people from the no-reservations line into the store, even though there were still lots of people in the reservations line. I got paired with another really nice guy named Zach Jay, a “Business Team” member—meaning he usually works with people who have Macs in their offices—who set me up with a 16-gigabyte model and a dock. By 9:45 I was out of the store with my new iPad.

The crowd celebrated as the Apple Store doors swung open a few minutes before 9:00 a.m.

The crowd celebrated as the Apple Store doors swung open a few minutes before 9:00 a.m.

Outside I ran into Cort Johnson from Dart Boston, who said he’d just spotted the Raizlabs contingent—who had been among the first people to leave the store—at Starbucks. So I headed over there for an impromptu Ploid party. The game, which is the first multi-player game I’ve heard of for the iPad, is pretty cool: it involves picking a corner of the screen and then competing with up to three other players to grab matching sea creatures from a pool of water and drag them into your corner. (See the photo at the top right corner of this story.) You get points for collecting creatures that have the same shape or color. Today is the first time Raiz’s team has had the opportunity to test the game on an actual iPad rather than the simulator that Apple provides as part of the iPad software development kit. They seemed pretty happy. Other than some minor bugs, Raiz said, the game worked the way they thought it would.

I left Starbucks just as all the iPads at the table were starting to attract a crowd of curious onlookers. And my own iPad has just about finishing synching now…so I’ll follow up soon with a genuine review!

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Wade Roush is the producer and host of the podcast Soonish and a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @soonishpodcast

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  • Between the Twitterverse, the iPad-centric Modern Family episode, and your tale, I almost feel a part of this early adopter scene. Thanks for all the juicy detail about the experience Wade. But…Ploid….as your first use? (I know you are syncing your data…) That would not get me out of bed at 5:00AM. Looking forward to your real review, but thanks for the “Haul” story in the meantime.