Fortune hailed him as the most powerful businessman in the world. Forbes ranked him among the world’s richest people. New York magazine consecrated him with the headline iGod. But as rich, powerful and omnipotent as he may be, Steve Jobs can’t doesn’t control the weather.
Small armies of people across the Valley braved a long night of 60 mile-per-hour winds, flying dust and debris and buckets of rain to buy the latest version of Apple’s Inc’s iPhone Friday morning.\
The 3G iPhone touts faster Internet access, a navigation chip, and is much cheaper than the original version that went on sale a year ago.
The eight gigabyte model is the cheapest at $199, while the 16GB phone is $299. The original models — a 4GB and 8GB phone — had cost for $499 and $599 respectively.
There were some technical glitches to be worked out on the first day
An official with AT&T, the exclusive carrier for the iPhone in the United States, said wet weather and a problem with Apple’s iTunes servers prevented some of the phones from being fully activated. But it still didn’t dampen sales.
“Because of the high volume of traffic (on the iTunes sites) they had worldwide, (customers) have had some delays,” said Scott Meyers, director of sales for AT&T Wireles in Arizona, who was at the AT&T store at SanTan Village mall in Gilbert.
Sam Towne, a Chandler resident, tried activating his iPhone from his home computer about six times before he had success.
“(I) must have snuck in there and got lucky,” he said. “They’ve got so many people trying to get on all at once. I pretty much expected it.”
The crowd count at Crossroads Towne Center in Gilbert numbered about 70 by the time the AT&T Wireless store opened its doors an hour early at 8 a.m.
Thomas Spickard, a Queen Creek resident who slept on the sidewalk outside the store, recounted the previous night like it was a Biblical plague.
A can of Black Flag bug killer sat near the entrance.
“We we’re being attacked by ants,” he said. “They had crawled up into my socks.”
Thomas was one of about 15 people who slept on the ground or in lawn chairs.
Then around 6 a.m., in 91 percent humidity and 80 degree heat, the others came and before long the line had coiled through the parking lot.
“I had no idea (the line) would be this long,” said Chandler resident, Karen Mazurkiewiez, who was standing at the back. .
She showed up around 8:15 a.m.
“Wow, I moved up one whole person,” she joked as the line crept forward about two feet.
Meyers said stores across the state sold out by noon Friday, much sooner than they did during the first iPhone launch.
“I think the price point is certainly a huge draw for people,” he said.
The SanTan store, which opened last week, drew about 80 people, Meyers said.