It was 68 degrees by 8:00 in the morning Friday, but the loyal fans who had lined up outside the Apple Store at 1 Stockton Street in San Francisco had already braved (slightly) less hospitable temperatures. The line -- running to the end of the block, turning the corner, and then continuing for the length of another city block -- had started forming nearly 15 hours earlier. The first Apple fan showed up at 4:00 in the afternoon Thursday, an Apple public-relations representative told Tech & Trend, and had stayed through the night until the doors opened at 8:00 a.m.
Inside, security guards stood on either side of the glass doors, waiting to oust troublemakers -- and possibly nosy reporters -- from among the milling groups of excited customers. Though much of the traffic throughout the rest of the store appeared to be evenly distributed between MacBook computers, desktop computers, iPads, and iPods, there was a certain purposefulness about the group at the iPhone table that set it apart. Most appeared to be determinedly putting the iPhone 4S through its paces. One man stared fixedly at the screen of a demo 4S, flipping back and forth between the panels. I'm trying to find Siri, he said, grunting with satisfaction when the feature was pointed out to him by a nearby sales associate.
But most of those visiting Apple stores this morning had already made up their minds about their purchases, but wanting is not necessarily having. By 9:45 a.m., the Stockton location's entire stock of Sprint iPhone 4S's was sold out, much to the dismay of Charles Ryan. I've been waiting for the iPhone to go to Sprint forever, he lamented. I like the way Apple products work, but I refuse to go over to Verizon and AT&T. Ryan said he would most likely try his luck at other stores, but was not optimistic about his chances of finding a phone Friday.
Those in the line appeared cheery, though the sun had already begun to gain its midday strength. Several Apple employees passed out potato chips and water, while others attempted to shade those waiting with large black umbrellas. Last year, pizzas were ordered for the throngs of eager iLiners. This year, granola bars and other grab 'n' go type snacks were handed out for those waiting through the night.
Opening weekend sales figures for the iPhone 4S are expected to reach as high as 4 million worldwide, with the iPhone 4S making its debut Friday in the United States, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom. According to Bloomberg, it is expected to outperform even last year's record-breaking sales of 1.7 million units of the iPhone 4 in its first weekend of availability to the public.