It was 5:30 p.m. on Friday, June 29, and 23-year-old Great Falls resident Ali Cheloei had been standing in line for 13 and a half hours. He was only a half-an-hour away from holding in his hand, and purchasing, the day’s prized possession.
Apple launched its much anticipated device, the iPhone, on Friday. Hundreds of local residents lined up in front of the Apple store at Tysons Corner Shopping Center, celebrating the launch and hoping to be among the first to buy the $599 device.
Cheloei was not hoping to hang on to his iPhone for long. "I am going to try to sell them on eBay," he said of the two iPhones he planned to buy. Two was the limit. He said he at first hoped to sell the devices for twice as much as he bought them for, but by the end of the day said he would be satisfied with a $100 or $200 profit from each.
George Copley of McLean, 61, also lined up in front of the store at 4 a.m., but gave up his spot to be with a friend who works with him at Freddie Mac. That friend, David Wilson, 44 of Centreville, arrived at 6 a.m. Wilson said he stood in line for 12 hours because iPhone is a great device. "Phone, iPod, internet, it’s all in my pocket," he said. Copley agreed, but added, "It’s fun, it’s all about the people." He said while standing in line for almost 14 hours he met and talked with a lot of people. Copley’s son told him he was crazy to stand in line for so long for the device. "What he doesn’t know is he is getting an iPhone," said Copley.
One of the people Copley met was Shayne McAllister, a 24-year-old Alexandria resident who works for Mid-Atlantic Computer Solutions, an Apple consultant. McAllister arrived at 5:45 a.m. and stood in line to get two iPhones, both for clients. Leaving for bathroom breaks was not a problem, said McAllister, as there was an understanding between the people waiting. "It’s the Mac line culture," he said. "Mac people tend to be in line for a lot of things."
TWENTY MINUTES TO GO, Tu Huynh, 35, a computer professional from Fairfax is somewhere in the middle of the line that is stretching out of the shopping center. He is standing by the Ritz Camera store. Huynh arrived at 10:45 a.m. having taken a day off from work. "It’s the opportunity to be the first one to get it," said Huynh, who had been interviewed by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) earlier in the day. "Besides, every time I turn the TV on, there it is," he said.
Standing in front of Huynh in line was Suzanne Bell, 31, a physical education teacher from Springfield. Despite having been in line for seven hours at the time, Bell said it was a positive experience. She said Apple employees distributed water to the people in line, while T.G.I. Friday’s came out with some appetizers. The shopping center’s security was nice, and people in line saved her spot when she had to use the restroom. She is willing to spend the $599 because she trusts the product would be of good quality. "I trust it’s going to be what it’s supposed to be," she said.
Ten minutes to go, and 32-year-old Jason Mader, a computer scientist from Washington, D.C., is last in the line that winds out the door and around the corner. He arrived "two minutes ago." Mader said he would not be the last in line for long. "People will keep showing up," he said. "It’s fun, you know everybody here wants one."