It's not a successful launch unless the order system gets hurt

Well, it looks like the Blackberry Storm's debut on Friday was a hit. The Blackberry cult is still alive and well, with thousands of Crackberry users showing up to upgrade their CBs and new recruits ready to join the throngs of The Berry. But a disturbing trend has emerged; crashing the order system. Reports are that Verizon offices and online Storm purchasers were stopped in their tracks by an overloaded back office ordering system. Did Verizon not anticipate the iPhone-like frenzied demand? There's been a Verizon Blackberry Storm billboard on the highway near my house for nearly a month now, and folks like me have been talking about the Storm repeatedly for the last six months and talking about how Apple still hasn't created a device the business user wants. I think we knew this day was coming, didn't we Verizon?

Not only was the Verizon ordering system not up to snuff, but Storms were in short supply. I arrived at my local Verizon store at 6:15 a.m. and I was 6th in line to get a Blackberry Storm. And it was a windy 32 degrees outside mind you. All of us sat in our cars keeping warm until a red haired young woman rushed up to the Verizon store doors, resulting in all of us quickly exiting our vehicles and making a mad dash to be near the front of the line. Now that was quite a sight I'm sure.

Rumors were that most stores had 20 to 30 Storms to hand out and there were around 450,000 Storms total all the stores had to sell. Reports are that stores quickly sold out, so I can imagine Verizon's ordering systems had a tough time keeping up. At least Blackberry Storms weren't dependent on a single point of failure, which was the case for iTunes and the iPhone 3G launch. But then again, the Storm's numbers don't come close to matching the first day sales of the iPhone 3G. At least Verizon had Storm units to sell. Speaking of shortages, I have yet to see a T-Mobile G1 Android Google phone and it's been weeks since its launch. Maybe the G1 hasn't come out of beta yet, lol.

So, is this what we are destined to at any new product launch that wants to claim success? Apple, Blackberry, X-Boxes, Wii games, Harry Potter books, etc, all have midnight or first day crazy types of product launches. And the hype cycle starts early. There's no secrecy... we're learning all about the product months in advance too. Not only do the products have to be in short supply but the provisioning system has to crash for it to be considered a successful launch. What next? Will people be getting married at the Verizon office or the Apple store during a product launch?

It's crazy, simply crazy. But I'm sure glad I had my Blackberry Storm in hand by 7:15 a.m. on that cold Friday morning. Too bad my fingers were still so frozen. It took me another 20 minutes to thaw out enough to type "hello world" into my first Blackberry Storm e-mail message. Shez... the sacrifices we make to have the latest technology.

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