RealTime IT News

Tales from the iPhone Line

NEW YORK -- Rebecca Boosma joined the line outside the Apple store here in midtown Manhattan Tuesday at 9 p.m.

It was her boyfriend's idea, she told internetnews.com. She said the plan was to take shifts waiting morning and night and that whoever was in line when the Apple store opened tonight at 6 p.m. would buy two phones, one for each of them. But it turns out Mr. Bright Idea could only find time in his busy schedule to spend one night out of three on the street.

So now that there's a rumor running up and down the line that the first 10 people waiting are getting free iPhones, guess who's going to have to shell out the $500 to buy the second phone?

"Oh yeah, there's no question there," Boosma said.

The rumor about the 10 free iPhones started when a man who said he was from a company called Imagination Games came by the line with 10 3D puzzles. Calling himself Steve K., the man handed out the puzzles and said his company would award anybody who solved it a free iPhone.

Vincent Nguyen, professional blogger and executive editor for Aradius Media Network, who was waiting a few spots down from Boosma, said he's been in contact with Steve K.

"I told him we'd made progress on his puzzle and he said, 'Who's we?' I wish I could have recorded his voice," Nguyen said.

If the rumors are true, Geoff Arnold, eleventh from the front, missed out on his chance by about two hours. He didn't get in line till Wednesday at 8pm.

"That's what you get for spending too much time with your girlfriend," said the guy next to Arnold, overhearing the interview.

Still, Arnold is happy to be here. The Apple store is open 24 hours and so there's always security on hand, he said. Plus, the store set up Wi-fi and somebody down the line brought a generator to share, so Arnold's spent most of the time on his laptop checking his fantasy team.

The worst part was Wednesday night when it rained, ruining everyone's plans for a movie night. The best part has been the attention from family and friends, Arnold said. "My brother's talked to me more in the past two weeks than in the last year, telling me he wants the second phone."

If Arnold got unlucky landing the 11th spot, there were rumors going around that Angelo, who declined to give his last name, was even unluckier at spot number 21. That's because at one point during the last week, people were saying Apple could only guarantee twenty iPhones would make it to the store.

"Bah," said Paula, a few spots ahead in line. "That's just a bunch of rumors. Like the one about the ten free iPhones." Paula also declined to share her last name. So did a number of campers near her spot in line. That's because many of them are getting paid to wait in line.

How much?

"Let's just say it's enough to pay my rent tonight," said Brett, who works in public relations. He said his benefactor contacted him through Craigslist.

"He's a really nice guy," Brett said, "But he's a total suit. You'd have to kill me to get me in a suit."

The guy next to Brett in line -- he gave his name as McLovin -- said he was getting $900 for his time.

Most of the people waiting in this area of the line spoke disparagingly about the product they'd camped out to buy.

"We're getting paid to be here," Brett said, "I'd never buy an iPhone. It's a piece of sh*t."

About 20 spots further back, pro-place holder Curtis Devore was less coy.

"I am not buying a phone," he said. "I want $500 for my place in line. That's the best offer you'll find."

"I'll give you a $100 bucks to help me sell my spot," Devore told internetnews.com.

iphone touch
Lined up for iPhones at the Manhattan Apple store.
Credit: N.Carlson

Others were in line for less capitalistic reasons. The very last person in line at 10 a.m. this morning was Jen Merrill. Merrill was waiting in line for a neighbor who agreed to water her plants when Merrill goes on vacation in a few weeks.

Back at the very front of the line, there's professional line sitter Greg Packer. Packer told internetnews.com he's waited in line for concerts, big games, parades. He said he's enjoying all the attention.

iphone crowds
iPhone's opening day at the Manhattan Apple store on Fifth Avenue.
Credit: Gene Hirschel

"I love how I've all of the sudden gained international status with this," Packer said, leaning back in his lawn chair, shielding his eyes.

"Just like Paris Hilton."