The iPod Classics sat almost unnoticed on a side counter at Melbourne’s newly opened Apple Store Chadstone, where the early-morning queue of around 200 people had swelled to more than 500 by the time the store opened at 10:00 am today. (this was the scene in the leadup to the opening and the first few minutes after the gates opened).
First in the queue for the store were Alice Clarke and Andi Pullar, who travelled from Mt Macedon for the opening and arrived with friend Thomas Mutton, a law student from Sunshine, at 4:30 am on Saturday morning. The subject of inevitable media attention, Clarke had made the trek to update her iPhone and pick up the recently released game Spore.
“I originally came for a new Macbook Pro, but they’re coming out in October so now I’m just getting my iPhone replaced,” she laughed. Mark that one in your diaries, Mac rumour addicts.
Now that they had made it to the head of the queue, was it worth it, I asked?
“Definitely,” Clarke said. “It was a very big-scale plan that was worth the last 5 hours. We queued for 17 hours for an iPhone [in July] and didn’t even get one.”
The next few spots were occupied by punters who had rocked up around 6:00 am, one to pick up a new keyboard and one – Sam from Kew — who had made the trek to replace his iPod earphones.
“My kitten ate the last ones,” he confessed. “They were worth $80.”
That’s one hungry — and expensive — kitten. “How much did the kitten cost?” I asked. He got my point.
The 500 square metre store, located on the second level of the glitzy Chadstone Shopping Centre – a mecca for the tens of thousands of gadget conscious students at nearby Monash University in Melbourne’s inner south-east – opened at 10:00 on the dot with the traditional lap of honour by the store’s brightly adorned staff.
Clapping and cheering, they opened the door on a new chapter of Apple’s retail strategy, with the company’s first stores outside of New South Wales confirming Apple is taking on the local market at full speed.
The crowds sat patiently in anticipation of the opening, many clutching nothing more than their boxed t-shirts even after they had been allowed into the store – in measured groups to avoid utter gridlock. Inside, Apple’s newly refreshed 2G iPod touch and 4G iPod nano were on prominent display, cutting their thin profiles on tables at the front of the store.
Both models attracted strong interest as punters got their hands on the products for the first time. The store is also fitted out with the usual assortment of iMac, Macbook air and other computers on tables across the store, with six Macbooks spanning the width of the Genius Bar.
Just a few of the revamped iPod classic models, by contrast, were in store, sitting meekly next to the Apple TV feeding video to a 42” Sony Bravia TV. This secondary position says volumes about Apple’s intentions with the classic, which has far more storage than the other models but is starting to look a bit long in the tooth compared with its chrome-and-glass, flash-RAM based brethren.
The assembled Apple staff – colour-coded, as always, by their areas of expertise and interest – were cheery and chipper, even after the initial rush of energy gave way to the realisation they were going to be clapping for a long time. For all the training we know they underwent before being allowed in the shop, I began to wonder whether endurance clapping had been a major component.
Their skills were up to scratch, though: AMW longtime poster Gazza was on hand and had an iPhone problem resolved at the Genius Bar within seconds.
I asked the resident creative person, who is available to walk people through the finer points of using iMovie and other Apple products, for a tip about iMovie and she walked me right through it. “This is the best job in the world,” she gushed. “Many of the people that come in here have never even touched a mouse before, and it’s just worth it to see their eyes light up as they take their first pictures using Photo Booth.”
It was a loud, enthusiastic, well-attended opening in which a few of the attendees even bought Apple products. Yet, with the cheering still reverberating through the shopping centre (and ringing in my ears) nearly two hours after the store opened, Mutton’s last comment came back to me.
“Why are you here today?” I asked him.
“To get the hell out of here,” he laughed.
Did you go to the opening? Did you miss it on purpose? Do you think all this excitement is just a waste of time and energy? Share your thoughts in the AMW Forums here.