Apple fans all over the country queued for hours, some for days, to get their hands on the iPad 2. I was one of them, and here's my story of the day in the queue for the iPad 2.
10.00 am (25 March 2011)
I arrived at Lakeside Shopping Centre, Thurrock, expecting to find about half a dozen people queuing, as there were still seven hours until the release of the iPad 2. I'd planned to do some shopping before joining the line, but when I realised that the queue was already at least 50 people long I joined straight away. I didn't want to risk walking away empty handed, and the Apple employees claimed that they were unaware of the number of iPad 2's they had in stock.
The queue was approximately 80 people long. The Apple staff offered us free Costa Coffee, breakfast snacks, and bottles of water.
A few more people had joined the queue and other shoppers in the centre had begun to ask about what we were waiting for. I heard people say "I think it's to see someone famous", and "Oh! It's for the iPhone 5".
(Inside Apple's Lakeside store)
By twelve I had begun chatting to the other people in the queue. Most were getting the 64GB, 3G model. The colour choices seemed to be divided evenly between black and white. I was hoping for the 32GB, WiFi only, black iPad 2, so when no-one else mentioned that they wanted my choice of model, I felt hopeful that I wouldn't leave disappointed. The Apple employees had been constantly offering more tea, coffee and snacks, and were now bringing us Pizza Express. An old lady who was not in the queue attempted to take some of the pizza which gave us all a good laugh.
Only four hours to go and everyone was getting fidgety. We were not very comfortable sitting on the floor, and the security staff kept asking us to move closer together because the queue was now too long to fit inside the sectioned off queueing zone. They began making people queue on the fire exit stairs. By this time, the queue was about 250 people long. One of my queue buddies went to buy some playing cards to entertain us.
The Apple staff were still giving out free food. Since I had joined the queue, I'd eaten two Costa croissants, a cinnamon pretzel, two Millies Cookies, and three slices of pepperoni pizza. I had also had a bottle of water, a bottle of Coke and a cup of coffee. Apple were definitely pulling out all the stops to make sure we were happy. I couldn't see the end of the queue by this point. It had reached all the way down the fire exit stairs.
The Apple store closed at 3 o'clock so that they could get set up for the launch. One of the Apple employees told us it was "so I can have a play with the iPad's first". At this point, everyone was getting very excited and anxious.
The Apple staff begun working their way up the queue, each time they stopped to talk we would hear an outburst of cheering. We knew they were telling them that they would be going home with an iPad today. Thankfully, I was informed that we would be walking home with our first choices of iPad 2 models, but they wouldn't inform us how many iPad's they had actually received.
More free food. I felt positively sick.
I received a small card onto which they stuck a barcode detailing my choice of iPad. We were told that no one without a barcode would receive an iPad 2.
From behind the black screens shielding the inside of the Apple store, we heard cheering and could see hands waving. A countdown begun and when we reached zero the door to the store was opened. About 60 Apple employees rushed out of the store, some filming the crowd with the brand new iPad, and they ran a lap around the queue to get everyone excited. Personally, although it was a fun gesture, I just wanted to get my hands on my iPad as soon as possible so I wanted the staff to be back in the store!
We were told that the first person in the Lakeside queue had been queuing since 11.00 am on Thursday 24 March. He was handed his iPad and had his photographs taken by the press. Police officers stood in front of the Apple Store to stop people who had not been queuing from getting into the shop. They let ten people into the store at a time, and within ten minutes I was in the store holding my brand new iPad 2. The Apple staff helped me choose a smart cover (I chose the red leather), and then they helped me set up my emails. I then walked away feeling exhausted, but knowing that the iPad 2 had been well worth the wait.
I have now been using my iPad 2 for three days and I am loving it. The only issue is that the red leather case is already battered and scuffed, even though I have been carrying it around in well cushioned bag. Overall, the queue for the iPad 2 was great fun, and the iPad I purchased has lived up to my high expectations.