We arrived at Oxford Circus at about 5:25pm. My brother had already been in the queue since about 4:15pm so we were about 200 places down the line. I had a rather disheartening walk past all the hard-core 'queuers' to a somewhat sobering wait about 200th in line on Hanover Street.
Despite that, there were still plenty of things happening. TV crews seemed keen to document what we do best in Britain - queue. We were interviewed more than once while waiting and managed to get an interview with CNN while activating one of our iPhones. With offers of free stuff from Starbucks (Coffee and Mince Pies - already!), On Networks, The Cloud (24 hour free Trial), T3, ZDNet.com, Griffin (rain coats), O2 (water).
Once they threw open the doors (and you could hear that all the way down Hanover Street), the line moved very fast and within 5 minutes we were in. We had to line up again inside but at least we weren't freezing to death anymore. We snaked our way past all the media and checked out some of the iPhone cases (loads in stock at the ridiculous prices that they charge in the store). After purchase we elatedly went over to one of the desks (which were strangely devoid of people) and set up shop there. My brother had brought his Macbook Pro and started activating our phones. After about 1/2 hour, all three phones were activated and in use. While I was happily unpacking my phone in readiness for activation, a CNN camera crew came and started to film us activating our phones. Not surprising as we seemed to be the only people actually doing so in the store. They then moved on to filming my brother while he activated his iPhone, they pretty much filmed the entire process including his first phone call. They seemed happy with the result.
We then noticed that Phil Schiller (Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing) was hanging around doing interviews. We took some pics of that and then went up to him to ask him to pose for photos with us. He obliged and proceeded to have a chat. He was particularly interested in how our activation process went and how we liked O2 as a carrier. He also asked us about our experience with the iPhone so far and went so far as trying to show my brother some of the features! Very cool guy. Very genuine. We spoke with him for almost five minutes. We thanked him for bringing out another great product and then left the apple store to go home and play around some more with this great gadget.
On the way home, I was approached three times while using the iPhone. People asking 'is that the new iPhone?' is sure to be a constant part of my life for the next few months.
Having used the iPhone now for a couple of hours, I will say that I am more impressed with it than I thought I would be. I enjoy all the features and find the entire device extremely simple to use. You just have to think how something should work and that's how it works. The buzz in the store was tangible and Apple did another great job at PR on this launch. I am happy to have been there.
A few interesting points to note:
- Apple had up to 300 store employees on the floor for the Launch.
- at 5:55pm a store employee came down the queue telling all those in line that the iPhone could be bought in cash tonight only (see video link below). This seems to be a reversal of their previous policy.
- Phil Schiller seemed particularly interested/almost concerned, with the activation process.
- The store staff did NOT want us to activate our phones on one of their machines, but did allow us to set up our own laptop to activate it.
- The iPhone box is slightly larger than the US one to accommodate the larger power adaptor.
- Ships with Software version 1.1.2