All the employees at the Apple retail store in Penn Square Mall (except for a couple guys behind the Genius Bar) on Thursday afternoon wore black T-shirts that featured a June 29 calendar image with the words “the wait is almost over” beneath it.
They were all pointing to Friday’s launch of the iPhone, of course. Everywhere you turned in the store you were confronted with a display or an image of the iPhone. Even the wallpaper on the computer displays pitched the iPhone.
As I strolled through the store, I tried to figure out what the iPhone debut compared with.
Was it the Xbox 360 launch that had thousands waiting in line a couple years ago? Was it the midnight madness of the Windows 95 launch in the mid-1990s? I remember the local Egghead store on N May being inundated with frenzied customers wanting their copy of Windows when it went on sale at midnight. If they only knew what they were getting.
Somehow the iPhone seems to transcend the marketing of mere gadgets and toys and software. The whole nation seems to be awaiting its debut, even if only a few million will actually be able to afford the $500 or $600 price tag of the Swiss Army knife of wireless communications gadgets.
OK, here is what I compare it to: the 1969 moon landing and Neil Armstrong’s first steps on another planet. I’m not saying it compares in importance, but the buzz certainly seems to be in that league.
If the moon landing is too outlandish, then how about The Beatles debut on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964? I think that may be a more apt comparison.
A sign at the entrance to the Apple store said “We will be closed from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. to get ready” for the iPhone launch. I spoke with an employee on the floor who told me “there will be a line.” The retailer was discouraging people from spending the night in the mall, he said.
The store will stay open until midnight on Friday.
Meanwhile, AT&T stores will close from 4:30-6 p.m. to prepare for the launch and remain open until 10 p.m. Friday.
Business News reporter