Though the San Francisco pop-up store's opening day crowds were impressive, it's probably best not to read into them too deeply. On the one hand, the store offered the public the first look at a highly publicized new device, which could have inflated the crowd's size. Then again, Surface might inspire enough positive word of mouth to continue driving long lines, and to effectively negate the front-loaded attention that often accompanies must-see devices. Either way, the first-day showing makes it difficult to gauge whether public interest will be truly widespread.
Put another way, the crowds were big -- but in an age when fan-boy culture has turned camping out for a spot in line into a rite of passage, not that big. The masses that congregated for Apple's recent iPhone launch, for example, were far larger. Even the queues that form for particularly big movie openings -- say The Avengers or The Dark Knight Rises -- make the pop-up store's launch seem relatively modest. If movie tickets and next-gen tablets seem like an apples-to-oranges comparison, that's a fair comment -- but considering that Microsoft's advertising budget for Windows 8 is said to dwarf even Hollywood's largest publicity bonanzas, the juxtaposition isn't without its place.
The store's staff members declined to state whether the opening day's crowds had exceeded expectations, but did say they'd been "overwhelmed" by the constant stream of interested shoppers.