I went to a local Apple store today after work to take a look at the iPhone. I expected to find a couple of hundred people lined up there (the larger Apple store a few miles away probably drew many more people) and, indeed, found around 500 people standing in segmented lines (to allow foot traffic). There were a number of things that surprised me while standing in line.
First, many, and maybe most, of the people standing in line clearly understood what the iPhone was all about and what various smartphones from other vendors offered. I saw a number of Moto Q, Blackjack, and MDA devices in various hands of excited people eargerly discussing getting rid of them and their current wireless provider in favor of the iPhone. This, quite honestly, surprised me quite a bit. I expected a group that consisted mostly of iPod users with low-end phones who just wanted to coolest newest Apple gizmo.
Second, there were a lot of Windows users in the line. I expected more of a Mac-crowd.
Third, there were a lot of Mac power users in line. I was surprised how many were talking about using Parallels Desktop for Mac (virtualization software that lets you run Windows alongside Mac OS X) to run one or two necessary Windows applications on their Mac. Umm, shameless self-promotion… I wrote a little PDF booklet for O’Reilly Media last summer titled Windows for Intel Macs focused on helping Mac users to use Microsoft Windows on a Mac using Parallels.
Fourth, and this is really an extension of my first observation above, I was really surprised to hear how many people were willing to break their current two year contract with Verizon Wireless, or Sprint PCS, or T-Mobile to use an iPhone on the AT&T Wireless network. One woman mentioned to a group behind us how she had moved from Cingular (now part of AT&T Wireless) to Verizon to buy a Windows Mobile device just a few months ago and is now breaking that contract to get an iPhone.
Fifth, from what I could tell I may have been the only person of the hundreds standing in the line that did not buy an iPhone. I saw tiny bag after tiny bag containing newly purchased iPhones as I stood in line. And, as I walked out, I saw people in front and behind me with iPhone bags. I really didn’t expect to see $500 and $600 devices fly out the store like that.
The real test comes in a few months after the first wave of iPhone users have had a chance to put it through its paces. However, if the majority of iPhone users are still happy by year’s end, I think I will be glad I didn’t name my site WindowsMobileViews in favor of the more generic MobileViews. Because if these new owners are still happy by December, the phone industry will have a new 500 pound gorilla to deal with: Apple.