Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Strange things are afoot at the Infinite Loop

Though I'm a lifelong Apple user, I won't pretend the experience is frustration-free. In fact, I'm slowly resigning myself to the idea that I won't have an iPhone 4 in my hands on June 24. Or perhaps anytime well into July.

I had been debating whether to sign up for pre-ordering and have it delivered to the place I'm staying. Though I had ended up waiting in line (completely unplanned) for the iPhone 3G in July 2008, I didn't relish the idea of going to one of Orange County's few Apple Stores for what would undoubtedly be long, long lines.

The island of Oahu, with 900 thousand people, has three stores — and just a few miles from each other. Orange County, with over 3 million people, has only four or five stores. The Orange County Register reports that the guy who got the first iPad at the Irvine Spectrum store had waiting in line since the afternoon of the previous day, and they expect something similar this time around:
Around 1,000 people are expected at the Irvine Spectrum on Thursday for the official release of the iPhone 4 when the store opens at 7 a.m.

The Irvine Spectrum is an outdoor mall where people can line up in advance. For the last major Apple release, the iPad, the first person at the Irvine Spectrum lined up at 3 p.m. the day before release. There were enough iPads available for launch that some people without pre-orders were also able to pick up the device.

More than 600,000 of Apple's newest iPhone were spoken for on the first day of pre-order availability, and new orders for the device are now slated to be shipped in mid-July. There's no telling whether people without pre-orders will be able to snatch one on Thursday. For the release of the iPad, Apple offered two lines – one for those who reserved a device and another for those who didn't.
Sorry, but I'm just not that much of a fan. If I can do without an iPhone 3Gs, I can wait a few days for my iPhone 4.

Anyhoo, the first glitch, though, was that the white iPhone 4 would not be available for pre-order. My iPhone 3G is black and I wanted a change. More importantly, I think that smudges will probably show up less on the white iPhone. And my first iPod, a white iPod Nano, had that same glassy white look, and I quite like it.

Having firmly decided I wanted the white one, I made up my mind to wait a day or so to see if it would eventually appear at the Apple Store, or find out if it would be available for in-store purchase on June 24. While I waited, seven billion people pre-ordered the black iPhone 4.

So while I waited, the "ships by" date at the Apple Store changed from June 24 to July 2, and is now resting at July 14. Geez, I thought, it's like watching the KRW sink against the US dollar.

Meanwhile, I thought I would curb some of my craving for an iPhone 4 by installing the new iOS4 (iPhone 4.0 software) on my 3G. Granted, the two-year-old phone wouldn't be able to do all the things a 3Gs or a 4 could do with the new OS, but it would upgrade a few things and make it a good backup phone, perhaps even my next Korea phone (although my 2005 LG is doing just fine).

But after several attempts to backup the iPhone 3G and then update it with the new OS, I have given up. We were told on iTunes that it could take over an hour for the whole process, but after leaving it on overnight, the backup bar had barely moved beyond a pixel or two. Something was amiss, and others were reporting problems as well.

Maybe Apple will fix that problem, but I'm trying to do a workaround in the meantime. I'm doing a new backup for my iPhone 3G on this MacBook Pro, even though its "home" computer is the iMac back in Honolulu. We'll see if that works.

But if it doesn't, I'm left with a slowish phone and no immediate prospects to get a white or even black iPhone 4, which I'd really like to get in order to quickly employ the video functions and some other things. I hate to say it, but Apple is looking sloppy — Microsoft's "getting-it-out is more important than getting-it-right" kinda sloppy. If they didn't have the white iPhones ready, they should have given a July release date. If they didn't have the iPhone software upgrade ready, they should have released it after they got it right.

I actually had an urgent need for the video camera feature, so at about 9:30 p.m. on June 28, the night before the AT&T Store release of the iPhone4 on June 29, I drove by the AT&T Store in the Los Angeles County community of Hawaiian Gardens. There was no one in line, so I thought if I got up and got over there at 4:30 or 5:00 a.m., there would be a short line.

It turns out I was right. At 5:30 or so, I was fifteenth in line, and after a couple hours waiting and chatting with the people in line, as well as an ethnography student from the Cambodian-run donut shop kitty-corner to the store who came by and took orders, I got a receipt acknowledging that I would get one from the next batch of iPhone4 units that were to come in that afternoon.

I left the store at 9:30 a.m., They came in earlier than expected: I got the call at about 11:30 a.m., and I drove back and got my iPhone4. And I did use the video function several times for something priceless I wouldn't have a chance to get later on.


  1. Maybe it's the excitement of "waiting for something"?? But I still can't understand it. Why can't ya'll just wait until they have more in stock at a later date so you don't have to wait in endless lines? You can't just wait a few months? Really??

  2. Well, I am not one of those people who waits in line for these things. Not for hours and hours, anyway. I only did it with the 3G because I happened to be going by the Kahala Mall and the line, when I check it, wasn't that long (a manageable hour-and-a-half or so).

    As for me, I specifically want the always-in-my-pocket camcorder aspect for something/someone specific here on the Mainland, so I'd rather not wait a few months. (Without explaining what I'm getting at, it was enough of a push factor for me that I almost bought an iPod Nano because of this.)

    Besides, my iPhone 3G is starting to feel a bit slow. Enough that I dread having to find things online with it (fortunately, newer apps are making it easier to do this stuff by bypassing the browser).


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