The person I'd been talking with had been in Seattle over the weekend and noted that "lines where everywhere. The Apple Store. The AT&T Store." Everywhere. Then he reported that Apple had sold 1,000,000 iPhones and 10,000,000 apps over the weekend.
It is pretty clear this person felt that the lines and the sales were a pretty clear sign of Apple's successful launch of the new iPhone.
I nodded in agreement.
Later in the morning I cruised over to Seth's blog and found his post on how Apple had messed up royally. I'm mean, really blew it. (He used the word "abysmal.") They should have given their best customers preferential treatment and rewarded early adopters, for example. Basically treat your best customers best.
Again, I nodded in agreement.
Now that I've had a few moments to reflect, I think they were both right.
*** The lines my friend saw and experienced told a quick, pointed story: "everyone" wants an iPhone. ***
*** Treating your best customers special, as Seth suggested, makes them more loyal and more likely to spread positive word of mouth. ***
Thing is, I think Apple's goal was to do the former, not the latter. They succeeded.
They didn't chase any loyal Apple fans/fiends away. No way. They are actually the ones rooting for their favorite underdog brand. They WANT the lines. The lines make them happy. Excited. Giddy.
Apple managed the scarcity of the iPhone kinda old school. They didn't use any of the newer thinking or technology suggested by Seth (and others). And I think it worked. Not in the kind of linear, Apple makes me feel special, so I'm going to love them more sorta way -- but in the visceral, gut level, OMG this thing crazy cool and crazy popular and I gotta have one no matter what sorta way.
This success makes the earlier adopters look even smarter. That's their reward.
This is not to say that's Seth's ideas are bad ones. They're great. They are just not right for Apple right now.
Besides, when was the last time an internet queue got someone excited enough to talk or write about it?
[UPDATE:] This post by Jon Dale demonstrates my point perfectly. A quote: "the only real problem with the iPhone is AT&T." Apple fans still attribute all the good stuff with Apple...all the bad stuff is someone else's fault -- even though Apple chose AT&T.