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The first people to wait for an iPhone 3G at Apple’s Fifth Avenue store came as a group—which may have staved off loneliness. Twenty-four hours before the first unboxing, fewer than ten people were lined up. Compared to the queue in 2007, where almost forty people were waiting, the 2008 line was sparse.
But those numbers quickly swelled around midnight. By 7 am, over two hundred people appeared. By 7:30, the queue stretched across Fifth Avenue, down 58th St., across Madison Avenue, and partway up 59th St. Eyeball estimation: 400 people.
Even though they were stuck on a snaking line, hundreds of people deep, every one of them looked happy to be there.
Eager iPhoners gave their reasons for wanting an iPhone 3G: better speed, great functionality, can be used for both work and play. Christian Miller, a soon-to-be-former Blackberry user, said he’s buying the iPhone because, "The price came down…. It works even on a student budget.”"He has been anticipating the iPhone 3G because "It's a better design, easier to use, not to mention the geek cred that comes with it."
But none of these reasons touch on why people would wait on a line for it before the start of the work day when they could order it online or purchase it over the weekend.
It seems that part of the excitement of getting an iPhone was waiting in line for one.
There was an aspect of entertainment just standing on the street. Not everyone near the iPhone queue was waiting for an iPhone: Red Bull was there, handing out free cans of their highly caffeinated soda. One person was working the crowd for signatures to get a Libertarian candidate on the Manhattan ballot. And one man kicked a soccer ball with friends.
According to Matt Dodd, a blogger with The iLife, the third "place" in line, "We like being on line with other people who enjoy the same products that we do, in this case, the iPhone."
Matt Rosenhein of The iLife said, "The culture surrounding [the iPhone's] consumers is fanatic. You get the kind of people you’re getting now."
Peter Chun concurs. He and his friend Raymond Koehl stood in line together. They’re good friends…who happened to meet in the iPhone queue last year.
But why wait for an iPhone, and not, say, a Blackberry? Chun said, "It’s because it’s fun, and the Blackberrys aren't fun.”
Also, [The BlackBerry is] Canadian.”
The Big Reveal
At 8 am, the people first on line walked into the Fifth Avenue store to the sounds of cheers.
David Yoo, 24, was the 75th person in the line, but he was the first person out of the store with an iPhone 3G. He was quickly surrounded by cameras. He unboxed his iPhone and held it up, but he broke away quickly after a minute, slightly sheepish, explaining that he had to leave for work.
He kept his new iPhone in his hand as he walked down Fifth Avenue.
Employees from the Apple store stood at the mouth of the entrance, applauding the crowd, giving them high-fives as they passed to buy their iPhones.