Apple’s cell phone draws crowds here and nationwide
ELYRIA — Erik Escuro was willing to be late to his own birthday party Friday night.
That’s because the soon-to-be 19-year-old figured his lateness could be easily explained when he showed up with a way cool present … for himself.
Escuro was second in a line of 40 people outside an Elyria AT&T store — ready for the
6 p.m. release of the much-anticipated iPhone. And even though he already was two hours late for his party, there wasn’t a candle-topped cake in the world that was going to pull him away from his coveted spot.
“I just really want that phone,” he said. “I’m sure people at the party are having fun without me, but it’s worth it.”
At $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, it better be.
The gadget, which Apple CEO Steve Jobs has touted as “revolutionary,” has been the focus of endless anticipatory chatter and has been parodied on late-night TV. Since its unveiling in January, expectations that it will become yet another blockbuster product for Apple has pushed the company’s stock up more than 40 percent.
On Friday, iPhones were listed for sale on eBay for $3,000. And even the possibility of such a tidy profit wasn’t enough to convince any of those in the Elyria line Friday to part with their phones.
The coolness factor of the Apple brand was enough to convince Martin Reuben, 53, of Cleveland, to stand in line.
He said even though he suspects his Verizon Trio has better coverage and service, he was willing to switch in order to have one of the most-happening technological devices out there.
Joel Witmer, 23, of Chicago, was visiting family in Oberlin and postponed a return flight back to the Windy City on Wednesday in order to pick up one in Elyria.
“The lines in Chicago are probably crazy,” he said. “I knew I had much better chances here.”
Witmer’s guess was on the money, as there were lines outside stores across the country.
At a Silicon Valley mall, Steve Wozniak, the former partner of Apple CEO Steve Jobs, showed up at 4 a.m. aboard his Segway scooter. He helped keep order in the line outside the Apple store at Santa Clara’s Valley Fair Mall.
The other customers awarded the honorary first spot in line to Wozniak, who said he planned to buy two iPhones, even though he remains an Apple employee and will get a free one from the company next month. He said the device would redefine cell phone design and use.
“Look how great the iPod turned out,” he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “So who wants to miss that revolution? That’s why there’s all this big hype for the iPhone.”
In Philadelphia, Mayor John F. Street was among those waiting in line at an AT&T store when he was asked by a 22-year-old passer-by, “How can you sit here with 200 murders in the city already?”
Street, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer, told the man: “I’m doing my job.”
The mayor then left, telling an aide to hold his spot until he could return later in the day. Earlier, Street said he liked trying new technology, and the iPhone would allow him to work outside the office.
“We don’t have to be sitting in City Hall to be conducting city business,” he said.
At Apple’s flagship store in New York, the line snaked around the block as would-be customers brought a dog, an inflatable couch and good spirits, despite little sleep.
“I was too amped up to sleep,” said Pablo Defendini, 28, a graphic designer. “Apple has a knack for creating very easy-to-use products. Their touch in the cell phone market is long overdue, I believe.”
Apple has not disclosed how many iPhones were available at launch. But analysts expect it will sell out by early next week between sales rung up at retail stores and online through Apple’s Web site, which has been a major distribution outlet for other Apple products.
AT&T in Elyria ran out of the 8-gigabyte model halfway through its 40-person line, and those who wouldn’t accept anything less quickly dispersed amid a few grunts.
Birthday-boy Escuro was the first to come out of the store, proudly yanking his unopened box out of his AT&T bag, and showing off his prized possession off to others before finally making his way to his car and impending party.
“I’m pretty excited,” he said. “I’m going home right now to sync it and activate it. My guests can wait a little longer.”
Contact Stephen Szucs at 329-7129 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
|JASON MILLER / CHRONICLE PHOTOS
Tim Sammon of Sheffield Lake shows off his new Apple iPhone in its box after purchasing it Friday at the AT&T store on West River Road in Elyria. Fans of the new smart phone started to get in line at noon and waited until it went on sale at 6 p.m.
|How excited were people to get the phone?|