Diary of an outcast: Apple's Special iPad 2 Event

I wouldn’t call myself a seasoned pro when it comes to Apple events but I’ve been to enough to know what to expect.

On Wednesday evening I attended the launch of the iPad 2. I got the invite from my editor and one of the things that will always surprises me is the fact that Apple has such an insane arrogance that shines through everything they do.

In the subject line it says “Please join Apple on March 2 for a Special Event”… Special? What kind of special exactly? You’re launching a piece of technology, why have you decided that it’s a special event.

I think the Aurora borealis is a special event
I think Halley’s comet is a special event
A golden anniversary = special event

Apple inviteI wouldn’t call the second iPad in what will be a long line of tablet variations a special event.

That’s not even the worst part of the email.

The worst part is that it says in big bold lettering: Come see what 2011 will be the year of.

Aside from poor grammar, I actually feel insulted that they think 2011 will be the year of the iPad 2.

How dare they ignore everything that is happening in the world and believe that the whole year will revolve around the second variation of the iPad in a long line of craplets.

WTF is wrong you Jobs? Have you seen the news lately? Never mind the Royal Wedding, there are REVOLUTIONS happening all over the world where people are overthrowing their government, overthrowing their dictators at the cost of their lives and homes to make their country a better place.

What in the world makes the iPad 2 define the whole of 2011 in comparison? Also, by the way, it’s the beginning of ****ing March you idiots!! You can’t decide what 2011 is the year of before it’s over.

What if, heaven forbid, something more important comes along later in the year that’s more important? Like I don’t know, some other crappy square thing that fanboys love more than the iPad 2?

If I get an iPad 2, I will send it to Libya and see what they make of it. I won’t even send it to anyone in particular, I’ll just put the address as: FAO Libya. And see if they think it’s important.

So anyway, on to the event. The event was held at the BBC in Wood Lane, as I walk through the entrance I see a huge truck with ‘Prank Patrol’ emblazoned across the side. I think it’s appropriate and move on.

Prank PatrolI arrive, fashionably late 😉 and enter the reception for the BBC audience studio to find the walls and windows covered in a black curtain-like material, a bit like a teen goth’s bedroom but without the artistic flair.

On either side of me there are Macbooks and iPhones with a couple of women manning them.

“Yes?” The brunette with heavy make-up asks.

“Hi, I’m here for the Apple thingy” I answer, I’m slightly nervous at this point. Why? Because I shouldn’t be here not only because the invite wasn’t for me but also because I have never owned an Apple product.

Her: “The launch event? It’s already started, you’re late”

Me: “Wha? Really? doesn’t it start at 7?”

Her: “No, registration was at 5pm and the event starts at 6pm”

Me: *laughs* “And I thought I was early!”

Her: “Name?”

Me: “Faisal Alani… thing is I didn’t actually get the invite, my boss got it and he forwarded it to me and I RSVP’d but in that email I asked if I could come.”

Her: “What’s your boss’s name?”

Me: “Bryan Glick… He RSVP’d too but he said that I would go instead of him”

She types into the Macbook.

Her: “Neither of you are listed”

Me: “Impossible.”

Her: “You’re not here. Hold on a second please.”

She then texts someone.

Her: “We’ll get an answer soon.”

At this point I wonder who it is she’s just sent a text to. It’s most likely her boss or something but I have a sneaky feeling it Jobs himself, he would’ve felt a disturbance in the force the second I arrived.

PassAfter a lot of awkward silence and me questioning whether they would like to swap their iPhones for my Desire, I see she receives a text from the Holy One. It reads ‘Yep Brian ok’.

He got my name wrong and misspelt my boss’s name but hey, I’m in! She gives me my special purple media pass and I’m away.

Her: “If you follow the lady at the door she’ll lead you”

Just like an execution.

I follow and we eventually arrive at the studio. On the way in there are lots of people in black t-shirts with the Apple logo, smiling at me. I imagine in the same way they do in whore houses, that really forced smile that makes you uneasy.

Out of the quiet and calm, she swings the double-doors open and I am faced with hundreds of geeks… HUNDREDS.

In unison they all look straight at me, even some cameras turn towards me as if to say “How dare you come late!!”

I raise my hand apologetically and put my head down as I head towards what looks like the only free seat in the house. Someone was eating Wotsits in this chair, just to get out of everyone’s way quickly I swallow my pride and sit on the Wotsit crumbs.

The self-satisfied sheep-like face on the three screens smiled down on us and proclaimed the iPad 2 was ‘amazing’ and he’s ‘so excited by it’.

Steve JobsI slowly start to get my laptop out and start writing a quick blog post on my phone. I get a few looks from guys sat around me, mainly to see what kind of tech I’m packing. They’re unimpressed.

SO I hit them with my awesome 3D camera. Oh yeah, no Apple logo on this bad boy. I hold it up for 26 mins recording footage, just because I’m getting so many envious looks from people around me that I daren’t put it down. Might sound childish but I felt like Jesse Owens raising my fist.

My arm starts to waver but I keep it held high. I can feel the sweat in their beards as they frantically try to figure out what it is and what makes it so special. Two lenses? Why? I can hear them whisper.

In the mean time, with just my right hand free, I quickly write up a couple of blogs, take some pictures, Tweet and send some emails.

Just to get some more attention and to get a feel for the crowd, I quickly spin the camera around to get a quick glance of the zombies around me.

This is the demographic:

  • Gender: Male
  • Ethnicity: Caucasian
  • Age: 25 – 55
  • Height: 5’0″ – 6’3″
  • Jeans: Skinny (really skinny it’s unnatural)
  • Dress sense: Colourful
  • Footwear: Trainers
  • Hair: Shocking
  • Beard: Well kept
  • Glasses: Thick rimmed, thick lensed

In front of me the voice from the telescreen was still babbling away about the iPad 2 and the overfulfilment of the year’s plan.

JobsI felt a t this stage I’d got enough footage, in 3D damn you!, and had written up enough content to feel I’d done a good job. I start to tie up the loose ends of my work, still the one armed bandit.

After what feels like half my life passing, I see that blasted phrase appear on the screen again: 2011 will be the year of the iPad.

Curse you Jobs!! My year will be full of wonder and magic, not your rectangular telescreen.

Suddenly everyone gets up, almost in unison, very scary. I didn’t realise that that was his big finish.

Seeing so many nerds run out of the auditorium makes me think there’s probably naked women in the next room, but no! It’s of course the iPad 2, same result anyway. LoL.

Since I’m sat at the end of the row, I get hassled into getting out of the way. I finally find a spot where I can gather all my super journalist gadgetery and dust off the Wotsits from my bum when this really fat guy asks me to move once again. “Move please” he says. He’s wearing a Family Guy T-shirt, go figure.

After dropping my stuff at least 6 times, I finally get my act together and head off into the next room.

I find a quiet table and stand next to an old man and, surprisingly an attractive woman. I start to film them playing with the iPad 2 when suddenly I realise it’s Jon Bentley and Suzi Perry of Gadget Show fame.

brightcove.createExperiences();

If you watch the clip closely (Fwd to 1.16 mins), you’ll see me glance at them with the camera. The second time I do so, Jon clocks me and I sheepishly pretend that I’m actually filming the iPad 2. Smooth Faisal, very smooth.

Embarrassingly, I then find that I’m actually in the way of their crew and stop recording to let them through very apologetically.

Once they’re done I get my hands on it, everyone’s filming the iPad on their iPhone yet I, a true trend setter, unleash the awesomeness of my HTC Desire. Kaboom!

My Desire up against all these iPhone 4’s makes me look like the only straight guy backstage at a fashion show.

After about five minutes, I get so bored of the iPad 2 I start to look around and I turn to see Suzi is peering over my shoulder.

Me: “So, what do you think of it?”

I really should’ve said something clever like, ‘Like what you see?’ but never mind.

Her: “It’s… great”

Me: “Is that it? Just, it’s great? There are guys *****ing themselves over this”

She shrugs and says: “And who are you?”

Me: “Sorry, Faisal Alani Computer Weekly. You won’t have heard of me”

Her: “Ermmm… No I haven’t”

Me: “Can I get a quick interview about the iPad 2?”

Her: “Yeah sure”

Suddenly she does that swish thing you see in the ads and gets into ‘TV mode’. She does a great interview.

brightcove.createExperiences();

Me: “Wow, that was really good. You should do that for a living.”

Her: “I do! Haha!”

She then gives me an insanely awkward punch/nudge on the arm, says it was nice to meet me and walks off.

I should’ve asked her for a job but I’ll get over it.

I now find myself stood with an iPad 2 in my hand, my bag open, the exit metres away and no one anywhere near me.

How easy is this? eBay away!! But no. I’m a good guy and I don’t steal. Even if it’s gonna make my year or whatever. Curse you Jobs!!

Also, if I want to get caught stealing I wouldn’t want to get caught like this. What would happen is that all these other weirdos will think that I love Apple soooooo much that I got desperate and stole the iPad 2. No way amigo, I’m not cut like that.

I walk over to some guy who’s trying to get the camera on his iPhone to work and hand it to him. He asks me to take a couple of pictures of him with it. I do and he looks great.

Finally I walk over to one of the ‘Applebots’ and ask them where the exit is and I swear, honest to God, she says “You want to leave? Really? What now?”

Yes now, I’ve had enough of this circus! I didn’t say that but should’ve.

She then tells me to follow ‘that lady in red’. I do so and find myself outside. The outside world feels different, it’s dark but there’s a lot less black out here.

On my way out the BBC, there’s a guy arguing that he needs to be let back in to see the ipad 2 because he only went out for a cigarette. He sounds really desperate.

Texas bbqWhat would’ve been awesome is that if I’d stolen the iPad 2 and just as they’re arguing I say something like “Here you go friend” and toss it to him walking off into the sunset.

I walk to my bus stop, wait half an hour in the freezing cold and order Domino’s pizza from their mobile site on my phone. I get a Texas BBQ and a Veg-a-roma (buy one get one half price) in case my girlfriend fancies some.

What a happy ending. That salty Pizza was the best part of the night, I ate it while writing up my notes and got BBQ sauce all over my laptop.

It was the Pizza of 2011. The clocks struck thirteen and I was off to bed.

See my night’s work:

Steve Jobs picture from Mallox on Flickr.

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By far the most open eyed review so far. Completely made my day :)
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"Also, if I want to get caught stealing I wouldn't want to get caught like this. What would happen is that all these other weirdos will think that I love Apple soooooo much that I got desperate and stole the iPad 2. No way amigo, I'm not cut like that."
Excellent. Made me laugh out loud and feel glad I wasn't there.
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