I made my visit to the Temple of Jobs yesterday, reaching the Apple store on Stockton Street about 9:30 p.m. The live van for the local NBC affiliate was parked outside waiting for the 11 p.m. newscast.
Inside, the store was relatively empty except for the big crowd around the iPhone display.
What was sparking the crowd? There were working iPhones set out on the counter.
Unlike most wireless carriers that put out dummy, nonfunctional phones, these were real. They were loaded with music, so you could test out the iPod features. You could use the Web browser. Watch videos on YouTube. You could even – gasp – make phone calls!
People were calling their friends — “Guess what, I’m calling you from the iPhone?” They waited patiently as the person in front of them explored the nuances. Every once in a while, someone would walk by proudly holding an iPhone bag.
Wireless carriers can learn a lot from Apple about launching products. Sure, most product launches won’t ever get the wall-to-wall media coverage that iPhone did. (Including a countdown the day before on CNBC ticking away the minutes until the iPhone launch.) But it’s a lot easier for people to get excited about a product when they can interact with it rather than have to imagine what it’s like.
Looking at my Facebook account today, there at least three people who reference having an iPhone, including one who “is worried her boyfriend loves his iPhone more than her.”