Ever since Fred let me have a try at his iPad, my mind is set to get one. For weeks, I had been monitoring the grapevine and hoping that the iPad will be released at the earliest date possible.
Finally, on 19 July, Apple announced that the iPad will be launched in 9 countries on 23 July, and Singapore is in the list.
The iPad is so highly sought-after by Apple fans and techie-consumers, that a queue is guaranteed to build up at all of the 30 reseller locations.
And I actually applied time off from work just to make sure I get my local warrantied iPad the very first moment it is officially launched in Singapore. (And was I glad I did)
My original plan was to head to the nearest reseller to my house: Junction 8 Best Denki. When Philip also expressed his interest to get one, I decided to head to the reseller near to his house: City Square Best Denki. I was told that these small outlets would not have sufficient stocks, but I’m willing to take the risk. It’s not as if the iPad is in limited production quantity: worst case is wait another few more days or weeks.
I arrived at the Best Denki entrance at about 8.40am. There were about 10-odd people in the queue already.
I then went to buy breakfast while Philip queued for me. When I returned, the queue grew to about 20.
At about 9.15am, the Best Denki staff made an announcement about the procedures in purchasing the iPad, as follows:
1. When the Apple staff come to you, inform them of the model you want and they will issue you with the sales memo.
2. Once the store opens, proceed to the cashier to pay.
3. Bring the receipt to the Apple counter to receive your iPad.
4. Only iPad can be purchased. Any accessory purchase could only be made after 1pm.
Then at 9.35am, the Apple staff started making their rounds. Philip requested for the 16GB 3G+Wifi (S$928) while I requested for the 16GB Wifi (S$728). When the guy after me asked for 16GB Wifi, the Apple staff told him it’s sold out. I was like “WHAT? AM I LUCKY!” I was the last person in the outlet to get the 16GB Wifi! I then deduced that there are only 8 sets of 16GB Wifi because the sale invoice I was given had a handwritten code that said “W16-08”, which means Wifi version. The 3G version would read “G16-xx”.
Eventually, the guy behind me decided to get the 32GB Wifi (S$878). Anyway, he was contemplating throughout the wait between 16GB and 32GB, as we rationalised with him whether the capacity is sufficient.
With the sales memo in my hands, there was nothing left to worry. It is already mine. No need to rush into the store. In fact, a few of the queue-ers loitered around to wait for their friends to arrive so that they could pay for themselves.
When we reached the collection counter, we glanced at all the available stocks laid nicely on the counter. I reckon there are about 60 sets in total. I happen to notice each box had the handwritten code that corresponds to the sales memo, and that’s how they ensured each unit is matched to the sales memo. The 64GB 3G+Wifi had 22 sets, because I saw “G64-22” at the end of the stack. As for the rest of the models, I didn’t probe.
By 10.10am, we’re out of Best Denki with our “trophies”. The whole experience was orderly and quiet. There was no hype, no groans. In Philip’s words, “disappointing”. I told him, “You want action, go queue at Wheelock or 313.”
Later the afternoon, I read a Straits Times online article and found that they had reporters going to Parkway and Wheelock to take photos. Fortunately for us, we were spared of the publicity.
At the time of posting this article, my wife is still playing “Angry Birds”, a paid app at US$4.99, the first that I downloaded. And up till the time I worked on this article, I was browsing the iTunes App Store to look for free and interesting apps to download.
Many friends have contacted me over SMS, calls, Facebook and Twitter about the iPad. Some asked me for review and comments. All I can say is: the iPad is defined by the apps you use. See, in every Apple device, there is always a primary function: iPod is music and video, iPhone is phone. So, what is iPad’s primary function? It’s everything and anything.
As a first-time iPod/iPhone/iPad OS interface user, I am humbly impressed by the convenience of iTunes App Store, and truly appreciate how it actually propels these devices to phenomenal successes. Without such a convenient platform, the capabilities of a device stops short of whatever applications it comes with out-of-the-box. In addition, while some other phone makers have tried to set up their own apps store, it is generally met with frustration by the consumer who is unable to find a lot of useful or interesting apps to increase their joy of experiencing the device.
The only time I lose interest in the iPad is the time when I can no longer find apps that are useful to me. And I suppose it’s quite a hard feat to achieve, when there are over 225,000 apps in store.