Happy iPhone Day
Ever since Apple released the iPhone last year I have been attempting to make a case to justify getting one. No matter what the argument was that I would make there was someone who shot it down leaving me to flounder without a smart phone (does not having a smart phone by definition mean you have a dumb phone?). Finally a couple of months ago I stumbled upon the perfect reason for having an iPhone. I tried it out on Trina and sure enough she accepted my justification. I was in! I would soon be an iPhone carrying geek first-class to be worshipped by all the other geeks who had not come up with the perfect justification. Of course with any plan there may be issues and mine was no different. Now that I had the proper approvals I found that there was not an iPhone to be found on the planet. The rumor was that there would be a new iPhone introduced at the World Wide Apple Developer’s Conference. The morning of the keynote address I sat glued to my computer watching along and monitoring every blog and information service I could find. Sure enough the new Apple iPhone 3G was announced. The specifications looked like a dream phone. I could hardly wait to go out at lunch and pick one up. Wait, what was that Steve Jobs just said? I rewound the keynote address and listened again. It won’t be available until July? My heart of course sank at this news. I felt a little like Homer Simpson in the episode where he tried to buy a handgun. He went to the gun store to buy a gun because he was made and wanted to shoot someone. The gun dealer explained that there was a 3-day waiting period before he could get a gun. Homer exclaimed, “But I want to shoot somebody now! I don’t want to wait!” For the next 3 days Homer sat in his front yard muttering to himself as everyone he hated paraded in front of him making him want the gun even more. Yeah that is exactly how I was feeling about the iPhone. It seemed like everywhere I went there was someone with an iPhone just waving it in front of me.
I soon forgot about the date and went on with my life. I think I must have technology ADD as things tend to do that with me. We began planning our family vacation and I didn’t even think about the iPhone. For some reason though; I added a calendar reminder to remind myself that the iPhone was coming out. It popped up on my screen and my heart sank. Oh crap! We are going to be on vacation when the iPhone is released! I immediately went out to the Internet to see where I might be able to find an iPhone in Idaho. A quick search of the AT&T web site showed that the closest AT&T store to Idaho Falls Idaho was in Salt Lake City Utah. That is a 3.5 hour drive. That was just not going to work. I sat there depressed then I had an epiphany. BYU-Idaho had just standardized on Apple products. Perhaps the campus bookstore would be selling the iPhone. I made a quick call to my daughter Mallorie and had her go to the bookstore and check. She called back and said yes they would be selling the iPhone both on campus as well as the AT&T Store. I explained that the closest AT&T Store was in Salt Lake. She corrected me and said no the guy told her that there were 2 new AT&T Stores in Idaho Falls and one in Rexburg. I gave Mallorie instructions that she was to find these stores and determine whether they would be selling the iPhone. She had to have this information available for me when I got there. When we arrived on vacation we were met by Mallorie and after a hug hello I immediately began quizzing her as to where the AT&T Stores were and what she had found out. She gave me the details and things looked like a go for iPhone Introduction Day.
Just to make sure everything was ready, I went out yesterday and scoped out the locations to determine which store would be the best to go to. I went to one store while Trina went to the other so we could get as much information as possible. I spoke to one of the salesmen at the eastside store. The details did not sound promising. They were going to get iPhones but they had no idea how many or which model. Ok, that is bad. Next I was told that Apple had put stipulations on the phones where the AT&T Store could only sell in a specific market and no other market. That didn’t sound too bad until the guy explained that meant that I could not get an Arizona phone number; I would have to have an Idaho phone number. What, are you kidding me? There is no way for me to get an Arizona phone number even though I live in Arizona? According to the salesman yes that was true. I then asked whether they would even be able to sell me a phone since my billing address would be in Arizona. He did not know the answer to that question and thought that could be a problem. As I left the store it was not looking too promising and I began to come to the realization that I might not get an iPhone. That evening I went out to visit my parents. I was not in the greatest of moods since I really did have my heart set on getting an iPhone. As I was driving back to Trina’s mom’s house I decided to drive past the Westside AT&T Store. It was 7 PM on July 10 and there were people camped out in front of the store. It looked to be about 8 or 10 people who were there for the night. At that moment I decided I was not even going to get up early the next morning. There were just too many obstacles for me to get an iPhone.
This morning I awoke at 5 AM unable to sleep. I got up and turned on the computer. I checked my email and went out to the various news services to see what was going on in the world. The introduction of the iPhone dominated the news sites. There were stories of people who had been camping out for days waiting for the iPhone. They showed pictures from around the world of people fighting for the right to get a phone. It was amazing to see. I started to wonder what it was going to be like in sleepy little Idaho Falls Idaho. Around 7:30 AM I decided maybe I would drive over to the AT&T Store just to see what it was going to be like. If nothing else maybe I would witness something that I could use for a blog entry. I grabbed my sweatshirt and got in the car and drove over. When I got in the parking lot I saw a small crowd lined up waiting for the store to open in 30 minutes. I parked and got out to get a closer look. As I approached, the AT&T Store Manager was out walking up and down the line explaining how things were going to work and what was needed to make this a painless process. I stopped him and asked how many iPhones the store had received. He did not have a count but explained that they thought they might have enough to fulfill initial orders. He handed me a form with the number 24 printed at the top. That would be my place in line. I was asked to fill out a form with my name, information, and phone number and they would see if they had an iPhone for me. I again asked about the possibility of getting an Arizona phone number and was told that could not happen. Still, it might be worth a shot. I could always play with the device for a week and get the number changed when I got home.
In front of me in line were three people from New Zealand who were here on vacation and decided to get an iPhone. All three of them wanted the black 16GB model which is the same as what I was looking for. As I stood in line more people arrived and stood behind me. As the store opening time approached the manager came back out and explained that they had enough iPhones in the right models to fulfill orders through #23. Oh, I just missed it. I muttered under my breath that maybe I should have come over just a little earlier. As I got ready to leave the manager told me to stay put for a couple of minutes. I didn’t really have anywhere to go so I stood there. Before long he came back out and went to the three people from New Zealand. He explained to them that they must be US citizens to buy an iPhone here. Since they did not meet that criteria they left. The manager then came to me and asked if I was looking for a black 16GB model. I nodded yes and he said that they could fulfill my order. Yes, I am back in the game! By this time a local radio station had arrived and was interviewing people in line. Shortly thereafter the local television station arrived and began filming and interviewing those in line. This of course made the guy behind me nervous since he was to be working. It just so happened that he was a deputy sheriff. He had an iPhone that he had bought just a month previously and was here to bring it back and exchange it for an iPhone 3G. He and I began talking. The conversation soon turned to what we did for a living or for fun. I explained that for fun I followed the Arizona Diamondbacks and had a web site and blog dedicated to the team. He asked for the domains. Soon I hear a voice from the back of the line asking, “Is that Jeff Summers from NowHitting.com?” Now that is not something you expect to hear especially 1,100 miles from home. Before long there was a small crowd surrounding me talking about baseball and my web sites. It was almost surreal how it happened.
The doors to the store opened and they began taking people in to get their phones and have them activated. People went in two at a time as that is how many computers and cashiers they had at the store (hey I told you it was a small town). We were told that it would take approximately 10-12 minutes per person. That estimate was extremely low and time came and went with no movement. The store opened at 8 AM and I finally reached the door to enter at 11 AM and I was now number 21. When I got into the store I found that #1 in line was still there. He began camping out in front of the store at 4 PM the day before and was still there. AT&T had screwed up his account and they were attempting to restore it so he could even buy a phone. I sat there soaking all of this in laughing to myself at the idea that I had spend half a day standing in line for the opportunity to buy a phone.
I finally arrived at the desk and sat down to begin the process of buying and activating an iPhone. I explained the situation to the representative that I was from Arizona but was in Idaho on vacation. I understood that I would have to have an Idaho phone number but wanted to make sure that I could have an Arizona billing address. After checking with several people I was assured that would be fine. We began filling out paperwork starting with my name and address. He then asked me for an email address. I gave him my NowHitting address that I always use. He stopped dead and looked up. I thought perhaps I had said something wrong. He asked, “Are you the guy that does NowHitting and Diary of a Diehard?” What the heck is going on? How do these people know about my sites? I admitted I was that guy. He had me hold on then went and told the other people in the office who was sitting at his desk. Soon he came back and asked if I really wanted an Arizona phone number. I said I did but understood it was not possible. He was busy hammering on his keyboard and soon he came back with a Chandler phone number for me. We finished the activation and I thanked him profusely for all of his help. He asked if it would be possible for me to get him some Diamondbacks tickets if he wanted to come to a game. Considering that he just saved me a bunch of hassle I would gladly buy him a couple of game tickets. I walked out of the store the owner of a new iPhone 3G with an Arizona phone number. To think I nearly stayed in bed this morning.
The funny part about this was just two days previously I was lamenting to Trina how far behind I was in updating my web sites and blog due to the service interruption with IX Web Hosting. Trina commented, “I don’t know why you insist on keeping that stuff up. What has that web site and blog ever done for you?” At the time I really didn’t have an answer for her but now I can forever more answer with, “Hey, it got me an iPhone with an Arizona phone number!” Ah that has such a sweet ring to it.