Another Apple Product, Another Frenzy

Apple CEO Steve Jobs pauses during his iPhone 4 demo to think about all of the clowns who'll waste precious hours of life just to be the first to get his latest brainchild.

When Apple released the iPad on April 3, I took to Pioneer Square Mall in downtown Portland to interview fellow Appleholics to see what all the fuss was about. What I found was an exhaustive, winding line of overeager early adopters who just had to have an iPad to fill the device void they never knew they had.

Somehow, lemmings come to mind when I think of them and the thousands who lined up at Apple Stores around the world yesterday to purchase the new iPhone 4.

Confession: I found out around noon yesterday I was actually eligible to get the iPhone 4 as an upgrade from my iPhone 3G for just $199 instead of $499. Of course, I did more research and found Steve Jobs & Co. might’ve screwed the pooch on the first run of the iPhone 4. The good folks at Mashable summed up most of the early issues in this info graphic:

Regarding the reception issue — the most troubling issue of all — Apple released this statement:

“Gripping any phone will result in some attenuation of its antenna performance, with certain places being worse than others depending on the placement of the antennas. This is a fact of life for every wireless phone. If you ever experience this on your iPhone 4, avoid gripping it in the lower left corner in a way that covers both sides of the black strip in the metal band, or simply use one of many available cases.”

How serious is the reception problem? Apparently not that serious (or uncommon) at all. An article posted on Engadget today indicates similar issues occurred with the iPhone 3G when users gripped the phone “wrong.” So, this fuss may be about nothing.

But maybe it is something because we’ve come to expect so much from Apple. Aside from U2 tickets and Twilight sequels, what else leads perfectly rational people from around the world to spend countless hours in anticipation of a product release? On a Thursday, no less? Chew on that one for a bit. Here’s the answer: Nothing. No other company sees its consumer base show up in droves for each product release. It’s ridiculous and awesome and it should leave MBA professors across the country mesmerized.

If we – and by “we” I mean people more patient than myself — are willing to use vacation hours to spend an entire day in a mall to purchase a smartphone, shouldn’t Apple show more vigilance in catching these problems before the release date? Apple has one of the most loyal consumer bases of any technology company in the world. Where’s the reciprocation?

I still intend on getting the iPhone 4, but I can wait until Apple irons some of the early kinks. (They’re usually pretty good about that kind of thing.) Even at 6:30 p.m. last night, I saw a TwitPic showing the line at Pioneer Square Mall Apple Store still stretched hundreds of people outside of the store. I might check it out again today, but I’d be shocked if the store had any phones left in stock.

When it comes to capturing the obsession and lunacy from yesterday, though, I think this tweet about sums it up:

Was it? 18 hours? Really?

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