Apple iPad Pre-sales watching

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Before today, the last time I witnessed actual excitement about a product was the Windows 3.0 introduction. During those few days after the launch, we brought in pallets of Logitech mice bundled with the OEM release of the OS and couldn’t keep stock. And that was in a small town.

Today, I witnessed something simply amazing. Almost on the same scale of excitement. I’m not really sure – so you tell me your thoughts.

As I was watching people tap away at the Best Buy display area for the four iPads, a family walked down the isle. As the group approached the table, the youngest in the member ran up to her mom, grabbed her arm and started pulling her toward the table. She kept saying, “iPad, iPad mommy.” As the family walked through the crowd, the little girl kept pulling her mom. The mom walked through the crowd and toward the televisions. The little girl kept pulling the direction toward the display table.

A few minutes later, the little girl was running toward the table and her older sister (about 8 years old) was not far behind.

The oldest reached the table first and grabbed the iPad furthest from me. It was the only one free. The little girl pouted and walked around the table. She ran her fingers over the trackpad of a Mac Book but kept starring over at the iPads. A minute didn’t even pass when she ran around the table and started tugging on her sister, “my turn, my turn.”

The 8 year old brushed off the little one, who proceeded to bounce up and down chanting, “my iPad. My iPad.” The older girl wouldn’t give up the device. Exaspirated, the little girl walked a few paces behind her sister, and ran toward her as fast as possible. She slammed into her back. The sister flinched but wouldn’t give up the iPad. The girl refused until her parents insisted that it was time to leave. The youngest never was able to touch any of the iPads. As the family was leaving, the little girl was being dragged away. Her face longing looking back toward the display table.

As this saga unfolded, I watched 9 other people come up to the iPads on display. All of them went through the same routine.

  1. The person starred at the device
  2. The person picked up the unit and started to turn it from side to side and looking at all of the edges
  3. The person ran their fingers over the screen
  4. The person set the device back onto the display
  5. The person started to poke. First in “hard” pokes and finally in light taps
  6. Finally, the person attempted typing: one finger, two fingers, and maybe a pinky would get into the action
  7. Eventually, someone else would come up and disrupt the person’s train of thought and they’d walk away

This was almost always the sequence. Almost.

One gentleman arrived with a backpack strapped to his back and an iPhone in his hand. He remained the longest. After the routine, he tried to type and type and type and type.

Next to him was a woman who moved from display unit to display unit – as if she’d seen something new and interesting in the device next to the one she was in front of the previous moments.

In the middle of my display watching, two males were at the table. One kept talking while the other kept poking – and poking hard. Finally, I could hear the talker say, “you don’t need to hit it. Just glide your hand like so …”

The funniest person though was the guy with the bluetooth headset – strolling up to the display unit and refusing to touch it. He just looked, bending over from side to side.

Watching people can be fun. You can learn from these events, too.

My conclusions was that Apple succeeded in getting the attention of the young and the old. I’ve never heard a 5 year old screaming for Windows 7 or even a Wii. But now I can say that a 5-year old wants her iPad.