If this is the iPad’s target market they have a problem…

As I drove to the train station this morning I tuned the radio to my usual Talk Radio station and was interested to hear that ‘After the break John’s guest will be the man who got the first iPad in New York City.’  I admit I have not been following the craze too closely but I know that Apple’s flagship store is in Times Square, and that if people were lining up anywhere it was there.  If I were not a few minutes late for the train I would have sat in the parking lot to listen to the end, but from the first few minutes of the conversation I suspect I would have been wasting my time.

Let me start by saying that when it comes to some things Microsoft I am not only the first guy running it, but am usually a year ahead of the curve as a beta tester.  That goes for Windows Client, Server, Microsoft Office, and a plethora of other products.  If asked why I tend to live on the ‘Bleeding Edge’ of these important technologies it is simple; my professional edge relies partly on my being able to demonstrate, support, and teach these products before everyone else.  I suppose at one point there was an aspect of ‘bragging rights’ involved, but that particular thrill passed long ago. 

This guy (his name is Greg Packer) wants to be first too – he was the first iPhone owner a couple of years ago as well.  As I listened to the interview I realized that this guy was in it for exactly that reason – bragging rights.  The interviewer (John Moore) had a hard time getting straight answers out of him that would be of interest to anyone outside an enthusiasts’ forum; it turns out that several days later (the product was released two days ago) he still has not opened the box.  Moore asked him numerous times why that was the case but never got a straight answer.  Taking a different tack Moore asked if he would be willing to ship his unopened iPad to him in Canada.  The answer he received was less appropriate to a radio interview and moreso to the sort of convention where the less-avid participants or only wearing pointy ears.

Let me be clear… I love technology and understand others who are avid about technology.  I also understand collectors – people who buy something and leave it in the original packaging in the hopes that the value of the mint condition product will go up in value.  However the melding of the two in this particular case amounts to a waste of time.  Firstly there would be no difference in value of a sealed iPad sold at 9am on the day of release and one sold at 9:05am on the same day… or at 12:15pm the following day for that matter.

(As a matter of interest it looks like Packer, dubbed a professional line sitter on at least one reference site, did NOT get the first iPad from the flagship Apple Store on 5th Avenue.  See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greg_Packer)

I have never seen the value of being the first, at least not to that extreme.  I read the Harry Potter books like most parents I know, and enjoyed them immensely.  When the seventh book in the series (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) was released on July 21, 2007 the world seemed to go mad standing in line the night before to get the book at 12:01am.  Lines were crazy, and I bought the same book without standing in line some 14 hours later.  In fact I bought two copies because I was with a friend who wanted it.  However once I got it I read it… I did not examine the cover for hours or days, I simply plopped down in my favourite chair and started reading.

One more bit that makes me wonder about Mr. Packer stems from two (rather, three) questions posed this morning:

  • When did you get into line? 7:00am, Tuesday morning.
  • When did the next people start lining up? 11:30pm, Thursday night.
  • Did you take breaks or did you stay the whole time? From the time other people lined up he stayed without taking a break.

I have, in my youth, camped out in line… mostly for concert tickets and the like.  I remember one of the most important considerations was getting friends to help out by spelling us for bio-breaks, meals, and so on… and it was simple because they would get their concert ticket too for helping out.  At the beginning of the interview I assumed that he would simply ask friends to help out.  By the end I admit I suspect he does not have a very deep pool of friends to choose from… I may be wrong, but from what I heard he does not sound like someone I would want to be friends with.  (I know, there are plenty of people out there who wouldn’t want to be friends with me either…)

I wish I could have heard the end of the interview.  I cannot fathom that that was all there was to it… to this person.  He seems to be a professional ‘man on the street’ with more than a hundred such references… but there must be more to this person!  Wikipedia (the only semi-credible source with any real information about him) claims he is a 47-year-old highway maintenance worker from Huntingdon, New York.  However his bio, at least on Wikipedia, and it seems his only real talent is trying to be noticed.

It’s sad… I hope he finds this to be satisfying, but I also wish that for all of that he said in the interview this morning that someone would give me those precious moments back.  As it stands I consider having listened to him time wasted.

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