Jim Humphreys and his 18-year-old nephew, Brandon Coulman, staked out the first and second spots in line outside an AT&T Wireless store in Gilbert more than a day in advance of the Apple iPhone’s release.
The two Chandler residents arrived at the store at Crossroads Towne Center on Thursday morning with reclining canvas lawn chairs, a cooler packed with beverages and snacks, a portable DVD player and a large plastic container full of blankets. Both said they’ll stay put until they get their hands on one of the hotly-anticipated gadgets, which go on sale at 6 p.m. today.
“I’ve never done anything like this before,” Humphreys said.
AT&T officials call the iPhone the biggest leap forward in telecommunications since Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone.
Among other things the phone will allow users to listen to music files, store large numbers of photos and surf the Web.
“We’re expecting a pretty strong turnout,” said Jeff McElfresh, regional vice president and general manager for AT&T Mobility.
McElfresh said plans to handle a crush of customers at the 25 AT&T stores selling the iPhone in the Valley have been in the works for months and he expects anywhere from 15 to 300 people per store, although he noted, “there’s no real science behind that.”
Among other plans, employees from the retail stores will pass out anywhere from 30,000 to 40,000 care packages to customers that will contain bottled water, sunscreen and hand-held fans.
“It gets pretty warm this time of year,” he said. “We’ve taken that into account.”
Joey Avalos, branch manager at the AT&T store near Stapley Drive and Baseline Road in Mesa, said he doesn’t know how many phones they’ll receive today.
His store is among other AT&T locations that will open at 9 a.m., and temporarily close at 4:30 p.m. as employees prepare for the expected crush of customers.
It will reopen at 6 p.m. at which time customers will be able to purchase an iPhone.
Avalos said the store will close at 10 p.m., regardless of whether there are still customers waiting for the phone or not.
Barry Bisman has been waiting for release of the iPhone for months.
He sold his iPods, got rid of his PDA and switched to AT&T in hope of consolidating all of his gadgets into one.
He stood outside the Apple store at Biltmore Fashion Park on Thursday admiring the 3-foot-high model of the phone in the window.
“God, I want that big phone,” he said. “I’ve been tearing my hair out.”
But Bisman was unsure whether he wanted to stand in line in the heat to buy the phone.
“I’m concerned that I’m being stupid by getting the first generation,” he said. “And it has nothing to do with the status symbol. It’s about how easy it is to use.”
Meanwhile, another Mac fanatic, who declined to provide his name, was camped out near the front door of the store. Mall security asked him to leave, so he moved a couple yards away, determined to be the first in line.
SO WHAT DOES THIS THING DO?
PHONE: Make a call by touching the screen. Scroll through contacts and write text messages using the multi-touch interface. Service is through AT&T. Available in a 4GB model for $499 and an 8GB model for $599.
CAMERA: Pictures can be taken and by touching the screen the user can zoom in and out of the pictures.
IPOD: Plays songs, TV shows and movies on a 3.5-inch display.
INTERNET: Surf, watch YouTube and create bookmarks.
Talk time............................. 8 hours Internet use ....................... 6 hours Video playback...................7 hours Audio playback................24 hours SOURCE: Apple