Friday, July 11, 2008

Eager iPhone 3G buyers begin all-night wait outside stores

The second-generation iPhone won't go on sale for another 9 hours, but some intrepid souls are already lining up outside AT&T and Apple stores to be among the first to use the device. We spoke with two as they began their night-long wait.

At an AT&T store in downtown Baltimore, which saw early morning lines form before last year's nighttime iPhone launch, was preparing for big crowds. Shortly after the close of the store at 8pm, plastic posts and chains were being setup to guide the expected line.

Inside the store, iPhone 3G posters and displays were put into place as employees asked passersby if they wanted to become the first person in line; nobody seemed interested in waiting 12 hours. Employees at AT&T stores across the country will receive training this evening to prepare for the morning's onslaught.

BetaNews asked if AT&T expected the same size crowd as last year, and the answer was a definitive yes despite the 8am launch. Although current iPhone owners may not be tempted to upgrade just yet, AT&T expects huge numbers of switchers from other carriers who waited for more enticing features, like 3G broadband and GPS.

Eager iPhone 3G buyers begin all-night wait outside stores

Setup begins at an AT&T store in Baltimore, Maryland

It may be right. By 9pm, the first buyers had lined up at the two AT&T locations visited by BetaNews, in Baltimore and Reston, Virginia.

A 41-year-old Verizon customer decided it was worth the long wait because he really wanted the iPhone 3G. He was originally planning to arrive at the Reston AT&T store by 3am, but didn't want to potentially miss his chance, since limited numbers of the device will be available in each location. Last year, most AT&T stores sold out with customers still in line.

Eager iPhone 3G buyers begin all-night wait outside stores

Eager iPhone 3G buyers begin all-night wait outside stores

In Baltimore, the story was one of love. A 50-year-old flight attendant agreed to wait all night to make sure her husband would receive the iPhone 3G before he went to work. She said it was his birthday, and although he's a huge Apple fan, he required the faster Internet and GPS functionality that is finally arriving in the upgrade. He's also switching carriers from Verizon.

Both individuals were expecting some friends to show up to help pass the time, and were a little embarrassed to admit they were waiting all night for a phone. Still, the flight attendant seemed happy to wait, saying she's frequently up for 20 hours at a time, and even brought along a map of the stars to study while she sits on the sidewalk looking up in the sky.

Eager iPhone 3G buyers begin all-night wait outside stores

A flight attendant waits in Baltimore to buy her husband an iPhone 3G

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