Apple iPhone 3G brings lines of customers at Ala Moana
Some were waiting as early as Wednesday, and some got an early start at 3:30 a.m., but Ala Moana Center would only let people in at 5 a.m. to be among the first in line for the Apple iPhone 3G.
By the Apple Store's opening at 8 a.m., at least 250 stood in line waiting to buy the new iPhone. The store only let about 10 people in at a time, but served coffee and answered questions for those who were in line.
A smatter of applause occurred every time someone exited the store with their purchase — about once every 20 minutes or so.
The Apple iPhone 3G, the second generation of the iPhone, combines a phone, widescreen iPod and Internet device into one, offering 3G wireless technology, GPS mapping and support for programs like Microsoft Exchange. They retail at a starting price of $199, which is less than half of the initial iPhone launch price of $499 (for a 4-gigabyte model) and $599 (for an 8-gigabyte model) back in June 2007.
Rich Coughlin, 20, a U.S. Coast Guard petty officer, started staking out a spot on Wednesday, saying he had fallen in love with the iPhone. He was kicked out when the mall closed at night, but was among the first to get into the Apple store.
"The Internet's quicker, it's almost as quick as Wi-Fi and the memory's bigger," said Coughlin, who became an iPhone convert after buying one in Chicago. "I think they redid the whole speaker system."
Coughlin says the iPhone has come in handy for him as he's been stationed in several locations for the Coast Guard.
Sheila Aaranoff emerged out of the Apple store at about 9 a.m. with two iPhone 3Gs in hand — one for her and her husband.
Aaranoff said she drove to the mall parking lot at 3:30 a.m. but was not allowed to enter until 5 a.m. So she drove home, and then walked back at 4:30 a.m. to be among the first to get into the store.
She's a new customer of the iPhone, but says she has been waiting for the launch since her husband's phone went out of commission.
"I have heard nothing but good things about it," said Aaranoff. "We wanted to wait until the second generation."
Lynn Yagi, who already has an iPhone, had been standing in line since 4 a.m.
She says the phone has been instrumental in helping her run two medical offices and to stay in touch with her staff.
"It's a good product," said Yagi. "There are pros and cons, but for me, personally, it really works."
She says she had a BlackBerry before getting the iPhone, but that nowadays, "you just want to keep it simple."
The new Apple iPhone has generated mixed reviews, with software glitches reported from New York saying customers were unable to activate their phones on AT&T. Also, Apple iTunes was not up and running at the time of the launch.
Apple was requiring customers to bring a credit card, Social Security number, valid government-issued photo ID, current wireless account number and password.
Due to the glitches — mostly because iTunes was down — most customers walking out of the Apple store with their purchases had to wait until later to activate their new iPhones.
Jared Nakayama, 31, said he called AT&T to cancel his discount plan so he would be able to activate the new iPhone. Nakayama said it would cost an additional $30 per month on his new AT&T plan, but he thought it would be worth it.
Individual plans for the new iPhone range from $69.99 to $129.99 per month, with an additional $20 per month for unlimited text messages.
Eddie Ortiz, 44, said he's been hooked on the iPhone since he got one last year. Ortiz runs Son Caribe, a Latin band and entertainment company, and says the iPhone is key to scheduling and planning.
Matt Derby, spokesman for Ala Moana Center, said he expected the lines to continue at the Apple store throughout the day.