THE APPLE iPHONE
iPhone release is ‘like Christmas in June’
Customers lined up for hours to buy one of the new Apple gadgets
SAN FRANCISCO » Brandon Saunders, 16, had been saving his allowance and birthday money for months to get one of Apple Inc.'s coveted iPhones.
He waited in line with his 70-year-old grandmother for about eight hours yesterday in front of a San Antonio AT&T store and left sunburned but grinning, shopping bag in hand.
"It's worth it," he said. "It's like Christmas in June."
The teen was among the first to get their hands on the coveted new gadget from Apple and become the braggarts and guinea pigs for the latest must-have, cutting-edge piece of techno-wizardry.
The doors of East Coast Apple and AT&T stores opened promptly at 6 p.m. EDT with cheers from employees and eager customers. Stores farther west followed suit as the clock struck 6 in each time zone. In San Francisco, customers sang "Auld Lang Syne" following a countdown, as if heralding a new era in telecommunications.
Patrons at the Apple store in Palo Alto were treated to a very brief appearance by Apple CEO Steve Jobs. He momentarily posed for pictures before leaving.
"I'm glad it's over," said Carlos Sanchez, 19, at Apple's Fifth Avenue store in New York City, clutching shopping bags containing two iPhones -- the maximum allowed per person. "I don't have to sleep outside anymore."
Techies, exhibitionists and luminaries -- even the co-founder of Apple and the mayor of Philadelphia -- were among the inaugural group of iPhone customers.
Because Apple designed a new way for customers to activate the cell phone service from AT&T, by logging onto Apple's iTunes software from their computers, many buyers headed straight home to christen the device.
In Newton, Mass., Khu Duong, 30, said he was excited but, "I'm afraid to open it. You want to sit down and relax."
Fellow customer Nick Seaver, 21, couldn't wait. He flipped open his Mac laptop right in the mall, and paid $5 to use the wireless network to get online and activate it. But because his current service contract with Verizon was set to expire the next day, Seaver got a computer message from iTunes he would have to wait 24 hours before his iPhone worked.
Will all the waiting have been worth it? For many, it didn't seem to matter.
"I just love getting new stuff," said retiree Len Edgerly, who arrived at 3 a.m. yesterday to be first in line outside an Apple store in Cambridge, Mass. "It's the best new thing that's come along in a long time. It's beautiful."