blackberry_birthday_smallYesterday, sort of on a whim, I decided to buy the brand new Blackberry Q1O on T-Mobile. I’ll write more about the decision later once I’ve had chance to play around the device a bit more, although I’m not sure I have much interesting to say on that front that hasn’t been better said by gadget experts. (Or that I didn’t say years ago here.)

What is interesting, however, is what happened when I went to buy the phone, on the T-Mobile store at Powell and Market in SF. For those not familiar with San Francisco, Market Street is the main street that runs through downtown. Powell is right smack in the middle of it. This is not a backstreet T-Mobile store.

The Q10 is the most anticipated Blackberry in years: It boasts the new Blackberry 10 operating system and — holy crap! — it has a physical keyboard. According to the online chatter I’ve seen, everyone and his dog who misses having a keyboard wants this phone. It launched in retail stories yesterday, and it launched on T-Mobile first.

I’m not sure if I expected lines around the block, but I certainly expected a wait. Maybe the T-Mobile store would have already sold out by the time I wandered in at around 3pm.

AND YET.

The store was practically empty. The only other people in there were buying iPhones. When I asked the assistant (who IIRC was called Asia, and who was utterly brilliant, by the way) about the Q10 she seemed almost shocked. “Yes!” she near-yelped, “We have it!”

As we completed the paperwork, another member of the in-store team came over to confer with Asia. They seemed slightly embarrassed, but only slightly. “Uh, can I ask you a favor?” Asia asked.

Apparently T-Mobile HQ had asked the store to take a photograph of the first person to buy a Q10 that day. That person was me.

I happily posed for about half a dozen photos clutching my new phone. They gave me a Blackberry branded water bottle (“Don’t use it for hot liquids!”). A fun time was had by all. If you want to buy a cellphone from T-Mobile, you should buy it from Asia at the store on Powell and Market.

But really — 3pm on launch day at possibly the busiest T-Mobile store in San Fucking Francisco, and I was the first person to buy a Q10. No matter how good the phone is (I have no complaints yet) that can’t bode well for RIM’s comeback device.

[Illustration by Hallie Bateman]