CrunchGear Meet-up: Budapest

Yes, there were women there.

I took the train from Warsaw to Budapest — fourteen hours in a Polish sleeper car made in that halcyon time between WWII and the fall of the Berlin Wall — and I was groggy, delirious, and hot as I walked down a street called Rottenbiller AKA Billy Rotten into the university district. I organized the event with Matt of who told me to meet him at Maghaz. For all I knew, I was walking into a den of mafiya hitmen who would kidnap the iPhone and hold it ransom. I armed myself with a large Hungarian sausage and walked through the door.

Luckily, Matt and the rest of the Budapest CrunchGear/Apple fan club were great. One guy, Jack took the train from Prague to hang out and the rest of the freaks and geeks assembled put up with my sputtering English and sweat-stained shirt.

The Russian iPhone

I started the evening with a little iPhone tour, going from table to table to show off the pinching, pulling, picture taking, and emailing. Then I let everyone play with it hands on. Rest assured that even after 30 or so people manhandled the iPhone for a good three hours it remained smudge free. It did, however, get hotter than a bastard.

The skinny dude in back had the LG Prada. Pshaw.

I drank water for the first few hours and then, suddenly, Matt organized a booze-athon involving Unicum, some kind of vodka, and lots of beer. The action got hot and heavy as Jack’s iPhone — he made his mom buy him one — entered the fray and two of them circulated. We had to be constantly on guard — the Hungarians are well known for their sleight-of-hand tricks and ability to hide objects in their cheeks and under their arms. At any moment one of my new Hungarian friends could have wandered off with the iPhone stuffed between a molar and gum. Luckily, these dudes were cool and were so damn excited that it was like watching the happy Christmas kids video over and over.

The Happiest Magyar in the World!

Everyone had a turn…

Matt even had a projector in case I brought a PowerPoint deck. Awwwww…

Overall, it was quite cool to talk to these folks about their feeling towards Apple (“expensive”) and their opinions of other phones in the market. Most of these guys had parents who ran old Soviet mainframes — one kid’s dad had to smuggle processors over the border to fix old machines — and now they’re studying and using some of the most high tech gear you’ve ever seen. Everyone had a higher end Sony Ericsson or Nokia and everyone loved the UI but was convinced that the iPhone, while cool, would probably get a tepid reception in Europe.

Couples came from far and wide to bask in the iGlory.

That’s Matt.

The night progressed approximately in this manner: John drinks beer. Someone brings shots. John drinks shots. John drinks beer. Someone tells John to go into a cab. Cabbie drives around in a circle a few times because he knows John is wasted. John rides the elevator up to his room. John sleeps.

Some people had to be told to share.

Uncle Fatback’s Traveling iPhone Medicine Show

Thank you, Budapest, for the warm welcome and the great times. I’m glad I got to know you folks and please drop me a line later if you have any projects or questions you’d like to discuss.

This dude drank only spirits.