Archive for June, 2010

June 22nd, 2010


I’m waiting as patiently as possible for Thursday—when I can pick up my new iPhone 4. But if one reads the news, about the pre-sale problems, the AT&T service problems, the planning for various lines and access issues to actually pick up reserved phones on Thursday, June 24th … well, discouraged is a polite word. I know, it’s all part of the buzz, the sense of being part of a big-small crowd of true believers.

The thing is: there must be a math problem here. Not with the sales of the phones, but the degree of discouragement for anyone just waiting for Thursday. (If you did not or were not able to pre-order, that’s a different subject.) Here’s a quick spin around the numbers, from a few directions:

  • If Apple, together with AT&T, pre-sold 600,000 iPhones in the United States, on an averaged basis that’s 12,000 phones per state. While the phones are sold at Apple’s retail locations, and at AT&T’s retail locations, they’re also being shipped delivery directly to buyers (even early, apparently). Everyone nationally had access to the ordering systems (before they crashed), and anywhere there’s an Apple store there are likely Apple customers. Although Apple will likely never release the stats, it would be interesting to know how sales are clustered, state by state.
  • Even if we assume heavier weighting towards several tech- or population-heavy states (e.g., California, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas), that will still only skew the numbers so much. Not all 12,000+ people in one state will be waiting at one place for their phone—as may have been the case when the first and second generation phones were released, an era when Apple also had fewer stores, and when they weren’t.
  • Speaking of those Apple stores, there are more than 200 of them across the U.S. Even if all 600,000 iPhones were being delivered only through the stores, that still works out to just 3,000 phones per store—a very manageable number of people to serve in a well-run retail environment. If 50% of the phones were sold through delivery, that would reduce this to 1,500 phones per store. And again, even if sales are weighted more heavily towards certain areas of the country, that likely won’t tip the balance wildly. Some stores may see a 7am rush, but I bet others will have merely steady traffic throughout the day, as they usually do.
  • Of course, AT&T also has retail stores: 2,200 of them. Apparently, not all of them will be stocking the new iPhone, at least immediately. If only 10% of stores stock the phone, that’s 220 stores. Add that to the 200 Apple stores, and the number of phones-per-store drops again. If it’s 20% of AT&T stores, that’s 600 retail outlets serving a maximum of 600,000 phones in one day: 1,000 phones per store.

So if, like me, you are waiting for Thursday, waiting with anticipation and a sense of expectation, and you’ve been reading the reviews of the phone, not to mention reviews of the new software and its various functions, and finding yourself more excited and more anxious, and are contemplating camping out on the steps by your local Apple store, well maybe, just maybe, there isn’t all that much to worry about.

Except how long your new battery will last on its first charge out of the box.

June 20th, 2010


I started today to write about my distaste for our national celebration of the “father’s day” faux-holiday.  I got about 100 words in, and it all started to feel very familiar, in the way things do when writers come back to old themes and wind up offering no new perspectives.  Ooops.  In this case, there’s good reason: I wrote about the mother’s day and father’s day holidays back in 2007:

I’ll admit it: I’ve hated Mother’s Day for as long as I can remember. And Father’s Day too.

According to the Wikipedia entry for Mother’s Day, the holiday “was copied from England by social activist Julia Ward Howe after the American Civil War with a call to unite women against war.” Of course, the entry then goes on to say that “According to the National Restaurant Association, Mother’s Day is now the most popular day of the year to dine out at a restaurant in the United States.

That might be my problem right there.

You can read the rest of this here: Mother’s Day.

Last week, I had a conversation with a very nice gentleman, a grandfather who seems to love his kids and grand-kids greatly.  He tried to rebut my anti-sentimental attitude by telling me about how great it is for him: his kids and grand-kids all come out to visit him (and his wife) for father’s day.  He then followed this up by telling me about his own childhood, when he was hauled (by his father) to three different homes, to see three different combinations of grandparents, to celebrate father’s day — while his own father, he later realized, acted more like a chauffeur.  To my mind, this just proved my point.

Back in May of 2007, people were telling me (then an impending father) that I might feel differently about all this, once I had my own children.  That hasn’t happened.  I love my two children, deeply.  I have tremendous love, admiration, and respect for my own father; that hasn’t changed, either.  And I still want to be loved and respected – and to love and respect my own father – in ways that go much deeper than the glancing, surface-level recognition that comes with holidays like this one.