Gadget Lovers Swarm as iPhone Mania Strikes Manhattan

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Thousands of people swarmed Apple's flagship 5th Avenue store to get the new iPhone.

    It's the day iPhone freaks have been waiting for.

    Apple's newest version of its smartphone officially went on sale today – and the line wrapped around Apple’s flagship store on 5th Avenue like a ribbon.

    Hundreds of people exposed themselves to the elements, some for days, and still had to fork over anywhere from $199 to $299 in order to get the latest tech gadget. (Rumor has it super savvy entrepreneurs were hawking their spots in line for three times that.)

    At first glance, though, it was no gift to get the new iPhone. Conditions were Spartan at best – and there was no guarantee those who waited seemingly interminable hours on line would even get one because pre-order demand sparked concerns about supply.

    At the front of the line was Evan Wiendczak with two of his friends who made the trip from Boston on Tuesday. Sure, there are Apple stores in Boston, but on such an historic occasion, they wanted to do things in a memorable way -- go to the flagship store and "make a little trip out of it."

    The 4th generation iPhone promises longer battery life, a front and back facing camera for video calls, better screen resolution and the ability to multi-task. It features a new operating system that can also be installed on some older models, such as the 3GS. , But even such a highly anticipated device can not simulate such memorable moments

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    For Wiendczak, i-Phone-a-palooza was as much about the experience as it was about the phone. For other customers, it was more about necessity.

    "I have the 3GS, but my friend dropped it in a pitcher of beer last week," said Julia Glanternik, 28, a medical student in New York.

    While those in line waited, people outside of the pen handed out food, water and magazines, and tried their hand at advertising/marketing products to this captive audience.  

    One company, Gazelle, had shirts to hand out with the goal of encouraging people to sell their older iPhones. Those phones could still fetch upwards of $100; the company plans to then resell them to countries were Apple doesn’t really have a presence.

    Supplies were limited and the store also had to hand out phones to the people who prepaid for one. A lot of people did that.  Apple reports on the first day alone it took 600,000 orders; the demand even crashed a computer system.

    AT&T stopped taking pre-orders entirely and won't have any iPhone 4s for people who didn't reserve them until June 29. On Apple's website, new orders weren't promised for delivery until July 14.

    While Google’s Android is definitely heating up the smartphone race, "Droid doesn’t do" this kind of cultural phenomenon.

    By 7 a.m. Thursday, the excitement building through the crowd became tangible.  Apple employees started chanting and then the first person -- Evan Wiendczak – went in.  He was weary after staying up the better part of 60 hours, but said it was worth it.

    "I guess I’m the first one on the eastern seaboard to have this thing, so it’s pretty fun," he said.

    Who will he reach out to first?  "Probably call my mother." 

    Ahhhh, such a good son.