New iPhone dials up excitement for Apple fans
With Apple amassing a record two million pre-orders in a day for the iPhone 5, New Yorkers are already lining up to get their hands on the gadget, which goes on sale Friday.
Monday, techies were camped out in front of Apple's Fifth Avenue store and prepared to call it home for the rest of the week.
Roger Chinchilla, owner of an iPhone banking app, said that it's thanks to the iPhone that he could afford to sleep outside the store all week and not report to his New Jersey office.
"I'm at work right now! My office is on Fifth Avenue!" crowed Chinchilla, 29, who lives in Corona.
Many in line were software developers loaded down with iPhones, iPads and MacBooks who, while eager to get first dibs on the device for their jobs, were also promoting their own businesses or sponsored by firms that knew the media would be there to cover the frenzy.
Besides annoucing the record-breaking pre-orders, Apple said yesterday that "demand for iPhone 5 exceeds the initial supply," implying that those who don't order now will have long waits.
Other city stores also reported they, too, were mobbed with inquiries for the speedier, skinnier gizmo promising better pictures and a longer battery life.
"The hype machine is in full gear," for what is basically an underwhelming upgrade, said tech expert Shelly Palmer.
The main significance of the phone, said Palmer, is that it's "the last of the devices [Steve Jobs] had his hand on that we're gonna see that came to the market as he wanted."
The line on Fifth Ave. outside the flagship store "is a sitting homage to Steve Jobs," Palmer said.
But others criticized what is now a predictable ritual.
People camping out to buy "an overpriced phone is pathetic and a reflection of contemporary values. It's a modern version of 'keeping up with the Joneses,'" said Camillia Shoufani, 21, a Greenwich Village resident and NYU senior.
Even Palmer conceded that the almost religious pilgrimage by Apple fans to snatch their new products is "a very stable, very powerful force happening that's unlike anything I've ever seen."
That's because the intuitive, creative technology offered by the company is life-changing, said Jessica Mellow, 27, of Harlem, who previously camped out for the iPhone 4S and was third in line Monday.
Mellow is blogging about her experiences on the line and is being "sponsored" by a company that's paying for her new iPhone. But, she said, her motives were pure.
"I'm doing this because I like Apple," she said.
(With Tim Herrera and Katharine Ulrich)