Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=183150
Story Retrieval Date: 5/20/2013 3:49:31 PM CST
With shipping times of three to five weeks for online preorders of the iPad 2, the only place for real Mac aficionados on Friday was outside an Apple store.
Why wait out in the cold?
“Instant gratification,” said Chicagoan Bryce Rome, 23. He got the last spot in the line that wrapped entirely around the block and continued down the Magnificent Mile outside Apple's 679 N. Michigan Ave. location.
Then Apple employees started turning people away. A fresh stock of the hot new gadget could be in the store by Monday afternoon.
But for many, waiting in line was part of the experience. Workers passed out water, chocolate, coffee, hot cocoa and blankets. Strangers on a mutual mission quickly became friends, bound by circumstance and an undeniable love for shiny gadgets.
The Apple store closed at 3 p.m. Friday to prepare for the onslaught, but opened again two hours later. Employees fetched the iPad 2, complete with dual cameras, gyroscope and new A5 processor chip. They also sat down with customers, took the goods out of the box, set up work and home emails and showed customers how to download apps.
“They make sure you go home feeling like you know how to use it,” said Mary Anne Bregar, 56, from Chicago.
Bregar’s daughter, Courtney, 22, had promised her mom a new iPad. When Courtney arrived at 11 a.m. to hold her place (30th in line, she counted), she didn’t realize she’d spend the day learning how to crochet and make a pot holder. Her neighbor in line, Melissa Spears, shared the know-how and some food.
“I’ve never gotten so close to people in such a short time,” Courtney said. “It’s amazing to be part of such a phenomenon.”
Apple can thank the new cameras and a lot of pent up desire for bringing people out in droves. Customers were excited to use FaceTime, a program that allows them to video chat in real time with friends and family. And most of the first-time purchasers had been considering a tablet for months, especially after hearing good reviews for the iPad. Prices for the iPad 2 start at $499.
“This is what I hoped the first one would be,” said Chris Slagle, a 25-year-old IT worker from Albany Park. “I’m excited to play with it this weekend.”
People also trusted the Apple technology to be cutting edge, clean and simple.
“It just works,” said Drishnay Menon, a self-proclaimed “Mac Fanboy” and former Apple employee. “It’s seamless. It integrates with all the other technology.”
The resounding disappointment among fans is the screen resolution, which Apple hasn’t improved from the original 1024 by 768 pixels.
Many of those in line planned to use the compact size of the device when travelling, but didn’t expect it to replace any of their other gadgetry such as laptops or cell phones.
“It’s very much a toy, very much a luxury,” said Menon. “It really doesn’t fulfill a need.”
Some passersby looked jealously at those with the latest tech trend in their hands, while others were confused and thought the store was giving away iPhones. Still, some were more disdainful.
“I would never wait in line for anything,” said Reuben Antonio, 25, of Grand Rapids, Mich., who didn’t know the tablet was going on sale before he walked past.
“I own a lot of Apple products, but I’ll probably get it in six months.”
This was Mary Anne Bregar’s first tablet, but those who already owned the debut tablet had many ways to dispose of them. Some sold them to friends, some put them on eBay and others planned to post them for sale on Craigslist.
Another option is returning them to an Apple store. The company announced it will donate those iPads to Teach for America for distribution to classrooms in low-income neighborhoods.
Finding homes for used tablets will be important in the future. Gartner Inc., a technology analyst, predicted 208 million units are expected to sell by 2014.