Customers Snap Up Apple's IPhones
Friday, June 29, 2007; 10:14 PM
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 Friday 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 his hands on the coveted gadget from Apple, joining throngs destined to become braggarts of and guinea pigs for the latest must-have, cutting-edge piece of techno-wizardry.
Apple is banking that its new, do-everything phone with a touch-sensitive screen will become its third core business next to its moneymaking iPod music players and Macintosh computers.
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.
The handset's price tag is $499 for a 4-gigabyte model and $599 for an 8-gigabyte version, on top of a minimum $59.99-a-month two-year service plan with AT&T Inc., the phone's exclusive carrier.
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 "afraid to open it. You want to sit down and relax."