New iPad has its Mall of America moment

Today is the day Apple Stores across the USA, UK, Australia and a half dozen other countries open their doors to crowds of ravenous new iPad customers, the Mall of America's hero store no exception to the rule. Here Apple has prepared plenty well for the line of 50 intrepid Apple fans in line with the first several gentlemen and ladies having entered the mall as early as 1AM this morning. The general consensus here appears to be that, like the iPhone 4S launch and the iPad 2 launch before that, customers have been sticking to online sales rather than braving the line for first-day adoption – this of course is great news for those lovers of the line, as no user will be turned away today here in Minnesota.

Here on a lovely spring morning on an abnormally warm March 16th, a lovely single-string line awaits their Apple fate indoors at one of the world's largest indoor malls: Minnesota's Mall of America. This location is one of four Apple stores within a half-hour driving time of one another in this very Apple-friendly metro environment. As such, Apple fans enjoy the convenience of an essentially guaranteed new model of whatever Apple product is being launched every few months while still getting the fun experience of waiting in an Apple line. Jack Smith (whose name is changed per his request) spoke with us about the line here at the MoA:

"You had the right idea if you're getting in line now [at 7AM, one hour before the Apple Store opening.] We've been in line since 1 [AM] and most of the line got here in the past few hours. ... It's fun being here though, even if I didn't have to bring the lawn chair [as early as I did.]" – Smith

In addition to the longer line made up of customers who'd not pre-ordered their new iPad, Apple had a separate line of people who ordered their iPad online and opted to pick the unit up at their local Apple store instead of having it shipped. Surprisingly this line had a mere 5 people in it, this at 8AM right before the doors opened. The first person in this line was John Barker (name also changed to protect his privacy) who noted how odd it was that essentially all customers grabbing an iPad this morning were those who'd not ordered in advance:

"Are you here with a pre-order? I got mine back the same day they announced [the new iPad]. I guess everyone else was happy to get theirs sent to the house – everyone needs their shut-eye I suppose!" – Barker

Mr. Barker also let us know that he currently owns an iPad first generation and will be giving it to his son now that he's getting a 2012 new iPad. When asked what he was most excited about with this new model, he spoke highly of the new model's highly-touted Retina display:

"I'm excited to get the new model just in general, but I'm expecting that I'll love the display the most. People online are saying it's like nothing else they've ever seen – 'once you see it, you'll never go back', ha!" – Barker

Once the doors opened it was all clapping and good times, each person with a card (handed out in advance to customers, each card showing the model they hoped to purchase) led in with an Apple Store worker apiece. Behind the back counter were stacks and stacks of new iPads awaiting their new owners of course, and the store did glow with excitement for the next generation of mobile tablet computing.

Have a peek at the photo collection above and below to get a taste of what it's like to wait in line for an Apple product here in Minnesota and don't forget to watch the door opening video – it's all excitement and blue shirts!