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Published: Saturday, 6/30/2007

Locals Toledoans line up, pick up new iPhone from Apple

BY JC REINDL
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Jamie Wright of Sylvania emerges as the first to buy the
phone at the AT&T store on Monroe Street. He said he was
in line about 5 a.m., five hours before opening time. Jamie Wright of Sylvania emerges as the first to buy the phone at the AT&T store on Monroe Street. He said he was in line about 5 a.m., five hours before opening time.
Enlarge

Never before has a trip to the cell phone shop looked so much like a day at the beach.

During yesterday s much-awaited roll-out of the Apple iPhone, the sidewalk around the AT&T store in West Toledo became a site for folding chairs, umbrellas, plastic coolers, and sunscreen bottles.

People lounged about reading books, and a man in sunglasses tuned his mini-boombox to 1980s hits.

With just two area stores carrying the do-everything device, one at 4906 Monroe St. and the other at 1392 Conant St. in Maumee, lines formed as people camped out for the day in hopes of being among the first to own the $599 gizmo.

Going to blow the nest egg, I might as well do it right, said Mark Sperling, 35, of West Toledo.

The iPhone did not go on sale until 6 p.m. and the stores closed temporarily at 4:30 p.m. to prepare for the debut. Both stores limited customers to just one iPhone apiece.

At its peak, the line around the West Toledo store stretched about 50 people deep. There were more than 40 people lined up outside the Maumee location, which quickly sold out of the phones. A store employee said the store had only about 40 in stock.

The Toledo store sold out of both the 4-gigabyte and 8-gigabyte models by 8:30, and employees took orders from those who were still waiting in line.

Jamie Wright, 29, of Sylvania, was first in line at the Toledo store. He said that he arrived about 5 a.m., five hours before the store opened.

I needed to get the phone today or else I would have died, he said jokingly. It doesn t do anything more than my phone now does, but it s cool.

Mr. Wright was somewhat disappointed by his lack of competition; there were reports of people in other cities lining up for days to buy an iPhone. He said it wasn t until about 10 a.m. that someone set up a chair next to him.

I could have slept in, he said.

Second and third in line at the Maumee store, Ryan Gast and Andrew Weber, both of Perrysburg, said they had been sitting out on their folding chairs since 6:30 a.m. with their credit cards ready.

Mr. Gast said that getting out of bed that early was a lot easier than staying awake during the afternoon.

I couldn t sleep last night just out of sheer excitement, said the 18-year-old, who described himself as a hard-core fan of nearly anything Apple makes.

I remember when they first announced the iPhone, Mr. Gast said. All I could think about was how bad I wanted an iPhone, but I didn t know anything about it.

But not all were in line to snag their own phones.

Becki Kuhn, 26, of Sylvania sat outside the Monroe Street store under her umbrella as she waited more than four hours to buy an iPhone for her boyfriend, who she said was at work.

It s not for me, Ms. Kuhn said, and then paused and smiled. Unless I decide to keep it for myself because that s my right after waiting in line.

Andrew Fruth and Brian Bailey, both 18 and new Ottawa Hills High School graduates, arrived at the Toledo store about 11 a.m., ready to make a profit.

Mr. Fruth said they planned to sell their new $599 iPhones on eBay for more than $1,000.

iPhone offers began popping up on eBay and Craigslist days before the devices went on sale. By 9 last night, there already were three eBay sellers listed from Toledo hawking six iPhones.

Yesterday s iPhone frenzy was a nationwide phenomenon.

The mayor of Philadelphia was among those waiting in line at an AT&T store when a 22-year-old passer-by asked, How can you sit here with 200 murders in the city already?

Mayor John F. Street replied: I m doing my job.

The mayor then left, telling an aide to hold his spot until he returned later. Mr. Street had said earlier that he liked trying new technology and that 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.

The iPhone media blitz wasn t without glitches, however.

On NBC s Today show, co-host Meredith Vieira encountered some difficulty trying to get the iPhone to work, saying with a laugh that this is why gadgets drive me crazy.

With a team of Apple representatives nearby off-screen, Ms. Vieira was supposed to receive a call from co-host Matt Lauer, who was in London.

The iPhone trumpeted by Apple as the most user-friendly smart phone ever displayed the incoming call, but she couldn t answer it.

In Toledo last night, Mr. Wright was greeted with applause from employees inside the AT&T store when the doors opened at 6.

Fifteen minutes later, he walked outside with his new iPhone, and he received another small round of applause from those still in line.

Someone yelled, asking if it was worth waiting since 5 a.m.

Maybe, Mr. Wright replied.

This report includes information from the Associated Press.

Contact JC Reindl at:jreindl@theblade.comor 419-724-6050.



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