To the cheers of more than 500 people lined up around the block at the Palo Alto Apple Store, Apple store employees let the cat out of the bag and allowed the throngs to purchase Apple’s latest operating system, Panther. The first in line here in Palo Alto was one Taylor Barcroft, who traveled from Santa Cruz to seize the distinction.
Barcroft, who passed the more than two hours he waited using his G4 PowerBook, was actually the second Apple devotee to arrive at the Palo Alto Store for the Panther release. He was technically beaten here by Avi Kushlan, but young Avi did not see any line and was quietly browsing when he heard Barcroft come in.
“I’m here because once these doors open it’s a lot of fun,” Kushlan said. “I mean, I’m Apple all the way down to my shoes.”
In addition to the Apple T-shirt worn by more than half of the people in line, Kushlan was indeed wearing sneakers adorned with the old rainbow colored Apple logo.
The devotion didn’t waver further back in line here in Palo Alto. A young lady who simply wanted to call herself “J” waited while holding her iBook open running a looping film of the latest Apple iPod commercial.
Inside the store, staff, some of whom were wearing black fuzzy Panther ears, were demonstrating all of the new features of Apple’s latest operating system. Customers also got a chance to use the new software on Macs in the store and also ask staff any questions they might have as they came up.
Apple Mac OS X Product Manager Ken Bereskin said that Apple sent product managers to Apple Stores nationwide to help with the Friday night release.
“They’re there to help introduce people to our products all over the country,” Bereskin said. “Events like tonight’s are a great opportunity to get people excited, and if that gets you to buy new things, then that’s great.”
Palo Alto Apple Store manager Megan Maxwell said that events like tonight’s are one of the rare opportunities for all of her staff to come together.
“They love this kind of event,” Maxwell said. “It’s a great time for them to interact with the community.”
Apple spokeswoman Jane Rauckhorst said that excitement and learning are the main goals of having special events like the Panther launch in the Apple Stores.
“The Apple Stores are a great place to shop and a great place to learn,” Rauckhorst said. “Having special events a few times a year is a great chance for our customers to get some of that Apple excitement and to handle some of our new products.”
As customers left the store, they were given Apple dog tags to commemorate the event. Many were also leaving with copies of Panther and other products, including many new Macs, which customers could purchase for 10 percent off. As customers who purchased new Macs left, staff shouted “Panther computer out the door!” to much applause.
As he left, Apple customer John Stulak said that he enjoyed the Panther release. He also attended the Jaguar release at the Palo Alto store, which he said had a line several times longer.
“I think that it’s great that Apple does these things,” Stulak said. “It’s a great way for Apple to generate a lot of publicity, and it’s a great day to buy a new computer with the discount.”