Good luck finding an iPhone

This post is brought to you by the letter “H”.

“H” is for hiatus. It’s been awhile since I’ve posted and for that, I apologize. My last couple weeks have been busy with about 42.4% of that time spent calling every Apple store in the Los Angeles area daily for iPhone 3G availability. I’ve just never seen a product like this so hard to keep on shelves. I know that tech product shortages are nothing new, but everything about the iPhone makes it an odd device to still have 3 hour lines two weeks after launch. First, there’s that fact that cell phones come with a high switching cost for most consumers. With contract dates and early termination fees, moving over to an iPhone represents a heftier decision that just picking up a Wii. Second, unlike any other device, for most users, a cell phone is a decision of mutual exclusivity. Few people own two cell phones and those that do usually are provided the second one by work. Or they are Puff Daddy P. Diddy. Tons of gamers own more than one console. Households often have multiple cars. You might own two GPS navigators, one for each car. But with a cell phone, most people are giving up something to get an iPhone. Third, these things are not exactly being produced in small quantities. When the Wii or PS3 launched, each store had 10, maybe 15 consoles to sell. Big box retailers might have had triple that number. Meanwhile, the Apple stores I’ve called had lines on 200 people on a daily basis for the first week and no one was talking about them selling out until the middle of the second week. The only thing they were running out of was hours in the day. Most locations had to cap the lines around 6 to hope to get through it by closing time. From every angle, it’s just unlike any other product launch I’ve seen.

This leads me to the second prong of this medium-sized rant. I have never worked so hard to give someone $400 ever in my life. When the PS3 came out, I had one on launch. I had a Wii within the first week and beat Twilight Princess by that Saturday. This is not my first rodeo when it comes to product launches and yet, I was thrown from my horse immediately (and figuratively). I had no intention of waiting overnight for this thing; my sleep is valuable and I prefer to do it inside. Alas, that seems to be what it took to score one on launch in LA. I imagine lines were a little friendlier outside of major metropolitan areas, but the city of angels was a madhouse. So after two weeks of moping and looking at my Nokia N75 with disdain (that loveless marriage was taking a turn for the worse), I finally broke down and showed up at the Pasadena Apple store at 6:30am on a Saturday. I ended up being tenth in line and getting into the store around 8:20am to make the purchase. I won’t bore you with the details as you most likely don’t care or have already been through the process, but Apple makes buying a phone a joyful process. The person helping didn’t touch my phone before I did (this is my biggest retail pet peeve and the reason I buy my phones online) and the process was quick. Completely unlike the hour long lesson in upsell you get from entering any of the carrier stores. But then again, you’re buying an iPhone, there’s nothing left to upsell.

Next time I’ll cover my impressions of the iPhone 3G and some of my favorite picks out of the App Store.

Oh and this is what waking up at 5:45am on a Saturday got you in front of:

Pasadena Apple Store iPhone Line
Filed under: Phones @ 9:25 pm

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