'If You Build it, Will they Come?': Yes, iDid

People Come Out in Droves to Line-up for iPhone on Apple's 'iDay';
Too Early to Tell How History will View/Record June 29th, 2007


by Joe Leo, Columnist


NEWS: (7.02.07)-- Friday, June 29th... a day which will live in infamy. No, wait, that's another day in history. But as far as the year 2007 is concerned, it was the World Premiere of Apple's newest tech gadget device, the cell phone / iPod / internet device called the iPhone. And history has yet to write the pages of this story.

It's too early to tell just what the future ramifications of Apple's iPhone holds in store. Will it change the world as we know it? Will it be as groundbreaking as Alexander Graham Bell's invention back in 1876? No one knows. But still, people lined up for it. "If you build it, will they come?" Yes they did, and in droves.

In fact, the only groundbreaking innovation in the history books was recorded the day before on June 28th, 1929 when the first demo of a color T.V. took place in New York**. Quite fitting, in a sense, though instead of [Apple]TV, it's the iPhone which kind of lets you watch T.V.

Unless you count the birth of American engineer George Washington Goethals on June 29th, 1858, the man who was in charge of building the Panama Canal**, which was an invention that did change the world as we know it when it was finally completed.

(**Source: Today in History, copyright 2003, A&E Television Networks; pp. 362-65)

But what is clear from the get-go is that Apple succeeded in terms of the hype factor. Hundreds of people lined up at their local Apple and/or AT&T (or Cingular Wireless stores owned and operated by AT&T) stores, hoping to be the first to take home an iPhone, not wanting to be left out in the cold without one. And therein lies the question...

Was it worth it for those that spent hours, even days, in line just to get their hands on one?

The night before "iDay"--apparently Apple's internal nickname for Friday, June 29th--we visited the location for our double coverage of the iPhone's premiere: Emeryville, CA where an Apple Store is just "inches" from a Cingular Wireless store owned by AT&T.

We expected to find a mob scene there and when we drove by Cingular Wireless, no one was there. A few feet down, five people were camped out in front of the Apple Store, but after we drove to the end of the block and made a U-turn back, the ones lined up were? Asked to leave by mall security (ouch!).

Returning Friday afternoon around 4:30p, the scene was different, of course. There was a significant line of people in front of the Cingular Wireless store, and three times, maybe four times as much were lined up at Apple's storefront.

Probably close to 300 people were lined up in front of the Apple Store. To the right of Apple were six other stores on the street and our estimates came from counting 30 people in line spanning the width of the last storefront in the lineup. The line in front of Apple--which snaked around four times the width of the Apple Store separated by chains--counts as four.

The first people in line at Cingular Wireless were Angelica Contreras of San Pablo (a couple of minutes down from Berkeley) and her boyfriend Owen Perez of Oakland who lined up at? 9:00a. An hour before that, they went to the Apple Store to find 30 people already in line.

"People didn't realize Cingular was getting it," they both said. So instead of getting behind the group at Apple, they set up shop in front of Cingular to get their $499 iPhone, the 4GB model.

(As we pointed out last week, it was reported that the only stores carrying the iPhone would be AT&T-branded stores. We reported on the contrary that Cingular Wireless stores would in fact be carrying the iPhone, so as long as they were still owned and operated by AT&T, as opposed to a franchise outlet which would not).

Over at the Apple Store, we found Jiggs Davis of Piedmont (a city in the East Bay hills next to Oakland) who along with his wife, began their day at the Apple Store bright and early to get two 8GB models. What time? 4:45a. We heard him correctly, but had to ask again, "AM or PM?" just to confirm. We were right the first time. 4:45a.

12 straight hours and a tad more as of our meeting. The birds and the worms hadn't even started their day yet. (Real worms, not ones that attack and infect your PCs, and on occasion, a Mac).


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