Here’s an interesting little anecdote from analyst Ben Bajarin who has attended every Apple event sans the January 2007 iPhone introduction. Although he wasn’t there and his father was, the iPhone launch has impacted Bajarin’s “life–temporarily–even before I got my hands on one”.
The analysts dad was lucky enough to land himself a private demo of the original iPhone by an Apple executive whom he knew, right following Steve’s legendary presentation. After calling his son using a demo iPhone unit, the phone number ended up showing up on the news, resulting in a minimum of 1,500 calls a day…
An excerpt from Bajarin’s blog:
In the moments after the iPhone launched my father was walking around the MacWorld show room when he saw an Apple exec whom he knew. He was able to get a quick demo of the iPhone and even a demonstration that it could make a call.
The exec offered to let my dad call someone. He called me on my cell phone. Ironically, I was in a meeting with the Windows Mobile team at CES when he called so I did not answer. When I got out of the meeting I listened to the message and it was my dad saying he called to tell me the iPhone was awesome and he was calling me from one.
This is when it got interesting:
Not long after my dad called me this same Apple exec demonstrated the iPhone to a number of national and international TV networks. Guess whose cell phone number was on the screen while he did the demo? If you guessed mine you are correct.
Not only did my cell phone number make the news, still pictures of that iPhone with my cell phone number on it hit the pages of most major newspapers the next day. Guess what happened in the days following? I got a minimum of 1500 calls a day for about a week.
No problem, he must have ignored those calls, right?
Here is what was really terrible about this situation. Because I get many calls from the local, national, and international press looking for quotes and perspective on the latest news, I had to answer or at least listen to the voicemails of very single one of these calls. Since the iPhone had just launched I did do well over two dozen press interviews.
I only have the numbers of several journalists in my contact list so most who call me I don’t know their number.
Having thousands of people calling your number just because they saw in on television or newspapers was “a surreal experience”. What’s really funny is that the vast majority of the callers wanted to talk to Steve Jobs.
“They assumed this number was a way to reach Steve Jobs and most wanted to pitch him on an idea or set up a meeting,” the analyst recalled.
One particular message a guy left on Bajarin’s voicemail stood out, he yelled at the top of lungs into his phone “dude your phone number is on the news!”
As a reminder, here’s Steve prank-calling Starbucks, ordering four thousand lattes to go.
The polite voice of a woman who answered that call was later identified as belonging to one Ying Hang “Hannah” Zhang. FastCompany was able to track down the Starbucks barista and get a comment, here’s what she said:
Honestly, I was shocked. I have never heard somebody order 4,000 lattes to go. I didn’t say anything because I was shocked. But my first impression was that he was just being humorous. He sounded like a gentleman.
After the funny exchange between Steve and Starbucks went viral, everyone copied Steve. People were “prank calling our store and ordering thousands of lattes,” she said. For those wondering, it would have taken Starbucks staff about 48 hours to fill 4,000 lattes.
As for Bajarin, lesson learned: never place phone calls using demo units at trade shows.