After work on Friday, I went to the Santa Monica apple store by around 7:30pm. The launch was at 6pm. There was a line of maybe 300 people and 6 police officers guarding the door. People actually cheered when someone left the store with an iPhone bag. I've never seen such emotional attachment to the process of buying a product. I saw a live video stream from one of the big stores (i forget which). once 6pm rolled around they were actually cheering 'Happy New Years!'. Everyone was laughing and cheering.
I went to the theater next to the apple store and saw Ratatouille. When I got out at 9:30pm, I was fairly certain I read the store would stay open until 10pm for the launch. I walked back over to the apple store to check the line. It was down to maybe 60 people, but still plenty of security.
Today, Saturday, i went back to the apple store at around noon. I was suprized to see there was no line into the store at all. There was a table of 10 or so iPhones and a small crowd of people using them or waiting to use one. People seemed fine with taking 10 minutes or more to try out the phone even though others were waiting, which i found annoying. Product-wise thats a good thing - they just kept playing and playing with the phone.
I got impatient and left the table before getting to try one. I spoke with an employee about inventory. I was suprized to learn that they were sold out of the 8GB model. Their entire inventory was on a rolling cart behind a row of sales terminals. A pile of maybe 35 of the 4GB model. The employee said they were opening a hour earlier tomorrow and may have some 8GB models by then.
I eventually ended up back at the iPhone table and waited long enough to get a turn on an iPhone. (pause for dramatic effect). The phone is amazing. Undeniably amazing. I did what i came there for - to watch fullscreen video playback. The image quality was fantastic and playback showed no noticeable blurring or lag time. The interface is not only intuitive but fast. Jumping between apps and 'flicking' lists up and down was satisfyingly speedy. all the phones had working cellular accounts so i looked up thesuperficial.com and sent Seth a text message. The onscreen keyboard is suprizingly good for what it is, but still a bit difficult to get good accuracy on.
The device itself is smaller than i expected and it has all the sleek sexyness of the iPod nano or the Sony PSP. I'm looking forward to the first 'hacking' story about whats possibly with this phone without at&t.