While it’s not Madden Day, nor does it match the hysteria of the first iPhone release that we covered, today’s Apple [AAPL] iPhone 3G launch is not without its own quirky drama. From professional line-waiters making a few hundred bucks by waiting to buy for someone else, to the publication of “iPhone line” restaurant lists, to and the Warholian fame of the first in line (the story arc of Dale Larson’s wait reads like pop-culture tragedy), iPhone Day 2.0 was already making for an entertaining Friday even before the stores opened. San Francisco line-waiters began lining up at Apple’s downtown store early Thursday morning (see Mathieu's pictures). Doors opened at 9:00am, and customers entered 30 at a time. As each group of customers entered, they were greeted by clapping employees, who were required to greet the customers with cheers. But maybe they should have been greeting them with hugs instead, as problems quickly
Almost after the 9am opening of the store, Apple’s system crashed. Customers – already faced with long waits purchasing and trying to activate the phones – left Apple’s store with phones that still didn’t work. They have to connect to iTunes via a computer in order to finish the activation.
Fights were reported. Over people cutting in line. To buy and activate a phone, something that, on any other day and for any other product, would just have been an annoying-but-necessary errand.
Apple predicts greater opening weekend sales for the iPhone 3G than for the original, released last year. The iPhone 3G is priced much lower than the original iPhone, though this cost is made up by costlier service plans. It is also twice as fast as the original phone.
While incredibly popular, sales for the original iPhone were lower than expected, but Apple expects the iPhone 3G’s opening weekend sales to exceed those of the original’s.