I've been wanting an iPhone since they first debuted last year, and finally, they were available in Canada . When Rogers first announced their rate plans, it did make me think twice about getting one, but then when they made amends and announced the promotional $30 data plan (for 6GB) earlier this week, it made iPhone ownership a little easier for me to swallow… (I was still going to get one anyways, but now it made it easier to justify getting two – one for me, and one for Michelle.)
I went to the rogers Plus in North Hill Centre about two weeks before the actual launch date to make sure they'd be carrying the iPhone. At the same time, I did some research to find out what time the mall opens, what doors open first, etc., just in case. ;-) Then, the day before, I went again to re-confirm that they actually had iPhones – they had been telling people that the mall doesn't open until 8am but I guess they were unaware that it actually opens at 5am due to the World Health Club in the mall. Research pays off.
The night before, I was debating on whether my best bet was to go to the Rogers in Falconridge and get in line the night before, (they were opening two hours early and doing an "official" launch there), or if my best bet was to stay with the smaller North Hill Centre location and be there at 5am. Obviously, I ended up going to North Hill and arrived just after 5am – first in line. ;-)
The second and third people in line arrived at 5:45am. By 7:05am the fourth guy arrived telling me that there were lineups expected overnight at the Chinook Mall location. By 7:17am the fifth guy had arrived, twenty minutes later saw the sixth person arrive, and then after that I couldn't keep track because they all started to show up quickly. By 8am, there were already 40+ people in line and it was funny to see their faces when they realized that they weren't first in line – I think nobody expected anyone would be there that early…
Just after 8am, the Rogers employees arrived and informed us that they were under strict orders to not sell any iPhones before 10am, the official mall opening. They were also nice enough to let us know that they only had 21 iPhones so everybody else in line could go home… (All other Rogers stores in Calgary were also sold out by then and it was unclear when more shipments would be arriving.) There was only one 16GB white iPhone and, being first in line, I was given first dibs on it. The store was very well organized and kudos to Jennifer Meng, the store Manager for that. She had prepared sheets for us to fill out in advance with all of our information to make things go smoother and assigned us all an iPhone (which she individually named after varieties of apples) to keep a better track of things.
The Rogers employees were anxious to get things rolling, (they thought they'd at least be able to enter our information in the computer before 10am, and just not let us walk away with the phones until 10am, but unfortunately that was not the case). They had the Mall's Customer Service desk announce that the mall was "officially now open for your shopping pleasure" at 9:55am. With this technicality out of the way, the mall was now officially open and they could start to get the ball rolling.
As I'm sure you've heard, both Apple's servers and Rogers' servers were unprepared for the tidal wave that followed, (Rogers took relief in knowing that AT&T in the US was also experiencing server issues) so the process was extremely slow. I was able to get my first phone activated by 11:30am – the same time that a UPS driver came by with some iPhone accessories. Also with the accessories was an additional 16GB white iPhone, as well as a black 16GB iPhone. Again, having arrived first, I was given first dibs on the additional white iPhone and picked it up too. (I was going to get Michelle a black 8GB iPhone but given the exclusivity and rarity of the white iPhones, I just had to jump on it.)
It took an extra three hours to get my second phone activated and I was finally able to leave the store just after 2:30pm. By that time, they had decided to get some lunch for their customers who were patiently waiting all day. (Yes, very patiently!)
I'm sure you've heard that stocks were extremely low all across Canada, most Rogers stores across Canada were "sold out" at least two hours before the stores officially opened. I must admit I felt like a geek when people asked me (and gawked at the answer) what time I got there to be first. But in the end, being one of the lucky few in Canada to have an iPhone would have been worth it alone – having two, rare white iPhones made it more than worth it! ;-)
Once again, Kudos to the store manager for being so organized and for her diligence in serving us as quick as possible under the circumstances. Here's an article in the Calgary Herald reporting on the official launch at the Falconridge location in Calgary.
And finally, here are some photos I took of the event: