The crystal-clear facade of Boston's Boylston Street Apple Store* beckoned and a slew of customers heeded the call this morning to greet the iPad. By the time I arrived at 8am, a line had formed down the street and around the corner -- a few hundred people at least. A second line for pre-order customers formed later in the morning, and by 9am was just as long as the first line. The store's interior was hidden by a black curtain that ran the length of the building.
The mood was jovial, with everyone discussing their plans for the new device. Apple Store employees were moving up and down the line, making chit-chat and offering candy, water and coffee. The weather was fine (unlike the rainy iPhone launch), if not a little cold.
The doors opened at 9, with blue-shirted workers cheering and whooping it up as we've seen before. I got into the store around 9:45 or 10 (pre-order customers were let in first), so all in all the wait wasn't very long.
Inside, all of the signage had been replaced with iPad images. Nearly all of the hardware on display on the 1st floor had been replaced with iPads (save a few Macs in the back), with more on the 2nd and 3rd floor. The demo iPads had many 3rd-party apps installed, and I must admit, it created a brief glimpse into what "try before you buy" from the App Store could be like.
My extremely happy host (Worker? Employee? Those seem too modest for this dude's level of hospitality) walked me to a demo unit and patiently answered my questions. Everyone was polite and courteous, and despite the large number of people the place didn't seem overcrowded. I guess that's the benefit of a massive store.
We were able to activate my iPad before I left the store, simply by briefly connecting it to a demo iMac.
All in all it was a good experience. The staff was knowledgable, the customers patient and the iPads abundant.
*I asked how they keep the glass looking so good, day in and day out. A worker told me a crew arrives each day at 4:00 AM to clean it. Those guys should be on Dirty Jobs.
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