Surprising some who believed that lines of customers for iPhone would not materialize, or that such lines would be restricted to only New York City and major cities in California, large groups of anxious iPhone buyers have formed at Apple Stores and AT&T locations across the United States. As of noon local time on the East Coast, iLounge editors and readers in Florida, Ohio, Tennessee and California reported groups of over 50 people already queued at local stores before noon local time, only a few having slept overnight to be close to the head of their lines. You can follow iLounge editor Larry Angell’s live updates from Columbus, Ohio at this link.
After noon, the crowds continued to swell, nearing 100 even in non-flagship Apple locations. By 4PM EST and 1PM PST, flagship Apple Stores in New York City and Los Angeles, as well as select other locations, had lines of over 200 people waiting for iPhones. At 2PM on each coast, Apple Store employees “blacked out” the stores’ windows as they prepared to move iPhones into display positions around each store, and prepare inventory on hand for sale. Signs reading “iPhone World Premiere, Tonight at 6 p.m.” were placed in the windows. Some of the stores announced that they would take groups of 50 at a time for purchases, in two lines: one cash, one credit. Fifteen minutes before launch, our editor at the Florida store was reporting “well over 250 people” in line. Our Ohio editor noted that groups of 30-40 would be taken at a time, and were asked to proceed to the Genius Bar if they were interested in making an immediate purchase.
Many reports coming in to iLounge suggest that the lines continue to grow, as demand for the $499 and $599 iPhones appears to be significant, and though it’s unclear as to how many iPhones stores are receiving, the numbers are high. A YouTube video shows a full pallet of iPhones being delivered to the Apple Store in SoHo, providing a rough estimate of 400-500 iPhones, perhaps more. One iLounge editor reports that he has heard that the ratio of 8GB units to 4GB units available is 4:1 in favor of 8GB units.
To keep the crowds refreshed, Apple Store employees have handed out bottles of Smartwater, and have walked the lines to chat people up as the launch approaches. We’ll continue to update this story as the day progresses; submit your story or photos using the “submit a news tip” box inside this article, or the “submit news” button at the top of the main page News column.