More Than Just a Phone
This was a very good summer for CE enthusiasts. In droves, American shoppers lined up, sometimes overnight, to get their hands on new, highly anticipated products, from the final installment of the Harry Potter series to the reloaded rosters of Madden ‘08. But one product release stood out. On a Friday night in late June, the event was so big local TV stations sent photographers in helicopters to get shots of the hundreds who gathered around the entrances of Apple and AT&T stores. Police shut down traffic on Fifth Avenue in midtown Manhattan to make room for the crowds at the Apple Store. Even the mayor of Philadelphia put his business on hold that day to wait in line and be one of the first Americans to plunk down $500-$600 for the much-hyped convergent phenomenon: the iPhone.
Apple shipped over a quarter million iPhones to American cities that first weekend. AT&T, the only carrier and retail partner for the iPhone, reported 146,000 activations in the first two days. As popular, stylish and ubiquitous as cellphones have become in America’s “Crackberry” culture, these numbers were unprecedented, especially for a smartphone with such a high price.
“Apple held its cards very close to the chest, so there was high expectation for the release,” said Damon Brown, author of “The Pocket Idiot’s Guide to the iPhone.” “Here was a product that at last did everything well, if nothing perfectly. It’s a phone, a 2-megapixel digital camera, a portable laptop with e-mail and wireless internet access, and an iPod. Plus, it’s easy to use. Most people pick up on it immediately when they begin to play with the touch screen.”