my new Apple iPhone story: O. Henry, and a happy ending
I had a pretty interesting experience at the iPhone store this morning that almost turned into something more like O. Henry’s “The Gift Of The Magi.”
Initially, I really wasn’t too motivated to get the new iPhone – I could take it or leave it, one way or another. I already had the 3G unit, and enjoyed using it.
But I loved the build up for it, and so I decided to jump in, like everyone else. Originally, I was going to pre-order it, but the demand was so great… by the time I was able to log into the Apple website, there was a two or three week wait.
And so I figured, if I happen to be by the Apple store I’d simply stop in and pick one up.
Turns out, last week after my Mastermind Group meeting ended — since the hotel was directly across the street from the Apple store in the International Mall — a few of us wandered over to the store just to see all the commotion going on, the day the iPhone arrived.
There were several lines of people wrapped around multiple pylons, both inside and outside the mall, and Apple was serving bottles of water and Chick-Fil-A.
These lines were ONLY for people who’d pre-ordered! They were NOT “selling” any new phones at this point in time, because they simply didn’t have the supplies in stock.
I’m not a crowd control expert, but I’d have to estimate, conservatively… there were somewhere near 500 people standing there waiting.
And there’s no way I wanted any part of this action.
So I rang up this small little AT&T store we have here in Lutz, to see if they were going to be carrying the new phones this week. Lutz isn’t exactly a mecca of commerce, so I figured the lines here couldn’t possibly be that long.
I wanted to get the new phone for my wife, because I thought she’d like some of the newer (picture in picture) features. They told me they’d have them in stock today, and that they were opening at 7am.
I wanted to surprise Anne, so this morning I headed over there around 6:30. When I got to the store, there were already around 60 people in line ahead of me, and while the thought of waiting around in the what turned out to be an incredibly humid morning, wasn’t the first thing I’d want to do on my list… I figured 60 people ahead of me couldn’t be that bad, either.
Everyone on line was very pleasant and of course, everyone had a story about their iPhone experiences and their entire cell phone history, as a matter of fact. Which made the 90 minute wait go by faster than you’d have expected.
And so here I am, getting closer to the front of the line, when suddenly… I spot a teeny tiny sign on the door that says, “One phone per person.”
I asked about this, and the retail store clerks, who were all actually quite patient and friendly, told me they were unable to sell me a phone for my wife. They could only sell each person their own phone, because they simply had less phones on stock, than the Apple stores have.
But that really wasn’t a big deal. Because in true Craig Garber fashion… just as I was trying to figure out what to do, another clerk emerged from the store and told us there were now no more phones in stock.
Hmmm… what to do, what to do?
A minute of so later, the manager comes out and explains they are getting in another shipment of phones later today. And they will guarantee everyone who is online right now will receive a phone. All we need to do is show them our ID, and they will give us a voucher. This voucher allows us to come back later and pick up our phone, without having to wait on line, all over again.
So I call up my wife and tell her I’ll be able to get her a phone if she can get down to the store as soon as possible. Again, they needed to see each customer in person, since their supplies were limited.
It blew the surprise, but no big deal, at least I’d be able to get her a phone. And she was actually very happy with this.
Now we live MAYBE 8 minutes away from this store. And so I’m standing there ten minutes after I called Anne, wondering where she is. As it is, I have already had to let several people who were behind me, ahead of me and into the store to pick up their voucher. And the number of voucher slips on the clerk’s clipboard… is definitely dwindling at this point.
I call and ask where she is and Anne tells me “on the highway.” Apparently, she didn’t know I was at our local AT & T store. Instead, she thought I was at the Apple store, and was on her way down to the International Mall.
“No, no, no… Turn around and come back to the AT & T store near the house.” A few minutes later I ring her again, to make sure she’s ok, and… sure enough, she’s doing fine. She just pulled off the exit ramp and is just around the corner.
Only thing is, she’s a little preoccupied because… she was pulled over for speeding and is about to get a nice, fat speeding ticket!
So what started as an innocent day filled with surprises and fun, has now turned into a story with more plot twists than a Stephen King novel.
The good news is, the store manager’s been with me the entire time all this has been going in, and he agrees to let me have two vouchers. One for me, and one for Anne.
Even he’s starting to feel bad over all this drama going on in my life, over an iPhone.
So I call Anne back and tell her not to worry… I pick up my vouchers… and I head out into the parking lot after a long morning — almost three hours after I first arrived.
Just then, I see a small FedEx truck pulling up to the front of the AT&T store. Could this possibly be the beloved iPhones responsible for this mess, arriving early?
“Who knows?” I tell myself, as I head back into the store to find out.
By now, Anne’s arrived, visibly shaken over all the confusion that went on. Mind you, I woke her out of a solid sleep in the first place, which is probably why she thought I was down at the Apple store.
A minute or so later, the store manager informs us the FedEx truck has just delivered a fresh batch of iPhones, and he promptly gives Anne and I our phones… and off we go.
Oh, and it turns out the cop let her off without giving her a ticket! That never happens to me, but it’s happened to her at least three times over the last 15 years. Must be the blonde thing she has going for her, but who cares?
In the end, after lots of confusion… we walk out, iPhones in hand.
I think the moral of the story is two-fold:
One, you cannot manufacture want. It is already there in the marketplace, and all you can do is bring it out. Creating want is like creating oxygen – it’s either there or it’s not there. You can find it, uncover it, or discover it, but you’re not going to create it. Ask Steve Jobs, he knows this better than anyone.
This is why people who fall in love with ideas first, are often disappointed when they bring this idea out into the marketplace. You need to fall in love with a marketplace, and then simply go out and sell that marketplace a better product than they’re already used to.
That’s how you make a ton of money and effortlessly generate sales. That’s how you attract buyers, instead of having to go out and chase them down.
And two… happy endings don’t come easy. But as Andrew Corsello once said, “It is far sweeter to escape… than to be merely free.”
Amen to that.
Now go sell something, Craig Garber
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