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Long lines, eager fans as new iPhone hits stores

June 25, 2010|Michelle Maltais and David Sarno

Apple loyalists by the thousands waited in lines around the world for the company's new iPhone on Thursday, in what has become a boisterous tradition for the company's product launches.

Observers across the nation reported sold-out stores, with lines twice or three times the length they were for previous iPhone launches.

As the Apple store opened at the Grove in the Fairfax neighborhood of Los Angeles at 7 a.m. Thursday morning, Randy Cruz was the first in line to buy the new fourth-generation phone. To get that spot, she arrived at 10 the night before.

"I haven't slept yet," she said. "I got off after working two jobs, and here I am. I have to go back to work at 9:30 this morning."

Last week, Apple sold 600,000 phones over the Internet before halting orders because of concerns that demand for the new phone could outstrip supply.

Some analysts are projecting that the company will have sold up to 1 million of the phones by the end of its first day in stores. That compares to 270,000 sold on the first day for the original iPhone in 2007.

The 16-gigabyte version of the phone retails for $199 with a 2-year contract with AT&T Inc. It went on sale Thursday in the U.S., Japan, Britain, Germany and France, and will expand to 88 countries by September.

Gene Munster, an industry analyst at Piper Jaffray & Co., predicted that Apple would break its own record and sell 9.5 million phones during the June quarter.

The new iPhone boasts a screen with four times the resolution of the previous-generation phone, as well as a sleeker glass-and-metal design and a high-resolution camera that can be used for video calling -- a feature Apple has dubbed "FaceTime."

Most stores hosted two lines, one for those customers who had reserved their phones in advance and a second line for those hoping to buy one without a reservation.

Dennis Wade of Hollywood was first in the "standby line." He and his friends showed up at 9:30 Wednesday night. "I've been here for about 12 hours, so I'm pretty certain that the first 10 people are going to get one."

As it turned out, Wade and friends were rewarded for their troubles when they found that plenty of phones were available.

michelle.maltais@latimes.com

david.sarno@latimes.com

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