I am going to do this article in blog style to try and give readers a sense of being there. Apple aficionados can stop reading now!
The store is in Pitt Street Mall – about equidistant from Pitt and Market streets and beside Sephora cosmetics. It’s a flagship location in what is Australia’s highest volume, ‘street traffic’ mall – it could not have chosen a better location.
The store was shrouded in a giant two story curtain, with a podium outside replete with a large gold ribbon.
After arriving and getting a media pass I could freely roam among the crowd.
I was impressed with the diversity. It was about 60% male and 40% female. The ages ranged from 15 (skipping school) to over 80 years old. On the whole I estimate the bulk were millennials from 18-35.
Read on for why this crowd was there.
I interviewed a cross section of the first 200 and then from those queued near the end of the line – I expect the later will get into the store about 4pm today. Microsoft was handing out its caps and bottled water to keep them hydrated and safe from the sun.
The crowd was queued in rows five deep down the mall almost to Pitt Street. On the other side near Myer were about 200 staff from Westfield; the 11 charities that received A$4.8 million in hardware and software; Microsoft Partners; a large media contingent; and an overflow of customers – more bollards were arranged to cope. I also noticed a few familar faces from Samsung and Apple!
I don’t know the official numbers for the opening but local police said it was over 2,000.
Following are a number of pertinent quotes from the crowd (age and gender in brackets):
- I came for the new Band 2 – I think it does a lot more than most in terms of sensors. It looks good and works with Apple and Android too (35/M)
- I want a new Band 2 because I like what it can do and it works on Android. It looks like it can stand up to the tough treatment I will give it (25/F)
- I want to see the Microsoft offering all in one place. I am interested in its technology and I want to replace my ageing Mac - call me an old nerd but I think it is time to switch back (55/M)
- I am curious about Windows 10 and Office – I can’t get that information from a retail store so I come to the horse’s mouth (44/F)
- I took the bus from Canberra very early this morning because I want a Surface Pro 4. I have a Pro 3 which was great and will hand that on to my brother (21/M)
- I am a Uni student – also from Canberra – and I am tired of my Mac Book not doing all I need. I want a Surface Pro 4 – it does everything I need – I think (20/M)
- I want to look at the Surface Pro 4. My son needs one for study and I may even get one (38/F)
- I think that the Surface Book is what I want. I like that you can chose between processors and SSD. I like that I can use it as a tablet too. It’s a little bit expensive so the Surface Pro 4 may win. Why Windows – it just works with everything I already have (65/M)
- I am a commercial artist and I think the i7 Surface Book is what I need with the digitiser pen – it will do what no other can. I have tried on iPad and Mac and I think Surface touch will be what I need (27/F)
- I am into Xbox and I want to see the games on a PC. I have an iPad at college but it does not do what I need so I will see if the Surface Pro 4 does it for me (18/M)
- I need something for Uni that has a separate keyboard. Some of my friends have iPads but I think the Surface Pro is for me (19/F)
- I am curious about the Luminas and Continuum. If it works, then it solves a real problem for me and my staff that spend a lot of time on the road (45/M). (Note I spoke to him in the store later and he has pre-ordered ‘several’ Lumia 950XL, 5.7” and docks).
- I wanted to be part of the first 750 to get concert tickets but also I need something for work that does more than my work iPad and Mac. We have Windows at home and I love the network sharing [Home group], printer sharing, and that I can upgrade easily (35/F)
- I skipped school today – with my mum’s permission – and I have a Westfield gift card from my parents to buy a Surface Pro 4 for school. (15/M)
- There is a Dell notebook at $500 bucks off, an Xbox bundle and I may get a Lumia 640 on sale as well – I want some bargains.
I spoke to many more, all had money to buy – they were not tyre kickers. It will be a good day for Microsoft. Obviously the Surface Pro 4 is top of mind.
But if queues are not your thing and opening specials are not important drop by anytime.
Microsoft was a little apprehensive – would it get the queues, would they be big enough for media, would there be enough interest in the store? The answer is a resounding yes.
I spoke to Anne Crook and Deanna Lane of YWCA - one of the 11 not for profit (NFP) recipients that will share in the $4.8 million of software and hardware grants made today.
“We are an NFP so every dollar counts and Microsoft’s grant will be used to help our teams extend our programs instead. We can update old systems and get up to date. We are very grateful to Microsoft,” said Crook.
I could write more but I think you get the drift. A successful opening of the first flagship store outside the US.
For the official line you can read iTWire’s Alex Zaharov-Reutt’s article based on the press release embargoed until midnight last night.
Following are some photos of the event.