Here’s a tale of, is it meant to be or not, at the Oakbrook, IL Apple Store. I woke my sorry ass up at 5 am to be at the Oakbrook Apple store by 6. I actually arrived at 5:45. I was about #35 in line. I figured waiting two hours isn’t bad, even three wouldn’t be bad. But waiting 6 1/2 hours isn’t what I had planned.

The Oakbrook apple store had about 350 people in line at about 10:00 am, with more coming. At exactly 8, they did let in the first 15 people. I, along with everybody else was thinking, cool… 45 minutes to an hour, we’ll be out of here. No Dice. It turns out that the Apple store had a “power outage” the night before from the storms that rolled through. Now, this would normally be plausible since we did have some nasty storms roll through. The little thing that gave away Apple’s B.S. in the matter is that less than 30 minutes later they changed their story.

It was their Point of Sale server that crashed, and they didn’t know how long it would be. Most stores, having a huge pending revenue stream (I figured about $200,000 for the iPhones to be sold that day alone) would go ahead and check their Point of Sale (POS) system when they arrive, just to verify. Even by taking the first person in line and letting them know that they can’t leave until after 8, but still, they could go ahead pay for their phone now. No, of course not, that would make sense.

After nobody had left the store after about 45 minutes (8:45 or so), they came out and told us that it was now an activation problem on AT&T’s end. People were starting to get irritated. It was a humid, 80 degrees by 8:00 am. So having the sun, heat, and humidity and having to wait longer than anticipated was not what most had in mind. But nobody really complained.

The story changed several times throughout the morning, it’s a “nationwide problem”, “it’s an Apple Only problem, not AT&T”, “It’s an Activation Server Problem.”

At about 10:15 or so, they came back out and said that their POS system was down, but Apple corporate made the Oakbrook store their #1 priority. I already knew it wasn’t a “nationwide issue” since I was getting tweets from others at other are stores about getting their phones and heading out the door. Finally, at about 11:00 the first people started trickling out. Their POS System was back up, but activation was taking forever.

So, they had people activate their phones at home, but did not announce this to the crowd at large. I finally left, with my 16GB Black in Hand (Thanks to an Early Birthday gift from the best girlfriend in the world), at 12:15pm or so. A full 6 1/2 hours after initially arriving.

Now, to the stores credit, they did provide water, and still had a ton remaining when I left. The crowd, being as understanding, didn’t riot, didn’t complain (too much). Overall, it was a good crowd, up in the front anyway. None of the other fanboys and fangirls worried about people leaving to get something to eat, drink, or use the restroom. It was a pretty good crowd. We did however have one woman who managed to jump about 250 spots, just because her friend was further up, so she kept chatting with her, and moving with the crowd, but nobody said anything. Not that any of us really cared, we just wanted our damn phones.

Once inside the Apple Store, everybody was great (the Air Conditioning was really nice). I did send an email to [email protected], about the poor planning, and failure to test their systems before hand. Which, if they would have done at 6AM, probably would have sped the whole process up by 2 hours, and it would not have been as bad. The email has yet to receive a response, as of the writing of this. I sent the email at 9:17AM on 7/11/08.

I didn’t attend the launch last year, I went on Saturday and was #4 in line at that point

We’ll see how well the battery holds up.