Hundreds line up for simultaneous launch

Jessyca Dewey

With lawn chairs and bottles of water, cousins Philip Colette, 19, and Winston Shields, 18, sat in the Westfield Topanga Mall parking garage on June 28 with a calm anticipation. In preparation for the release of the Apple iPhone the following day, the boys had arrived at 5:45 p.m. and were preparing for the night ahead of them.

“We have a tent in the car, if they’ll let us set it up,” said Shields, motioning toward the lines of cars in front of them.

A portable restroom not far away, and a Starbucks down the street, the two cousins had their plan: If they got hungry or thirsty, one of them would hold their place in line while the other went to purchase whatever they needed.

Colette even went so far in his preparations as to switch over to AT’T the day before so that he could activate his iPhone directly after purchase. He signed a two-year contract that included an additional AT’T cell phone.

“Basically, now I’ll have two phones,” said Colette.

While the line began to grow outside of the mall, the crowds at the Apple Store were steadily flowing inside to find out what they could about the iPhone. No demos were yet available, however many customers seemed content to watch the informational videos about the iPhone playing on the monitors.

Directly outside the store, a large sign stood that directed customers toward the iPhone line in the garage. According to an Apple employee, the mall security had made sure that no customers were allowed to wait inside the mall.

Shields and Colette are familiar with such lines. Having stood in line for both the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3, they had an idea of what to expect. In fact, Colette drove all the way from Fresno, Calif., to wait in line with his cousin, who is from the Los Angeles area.

With their old phones and iPods, they waited. Shields held up an Audiovox SMT5600 cell phone and someone in the crowd commented, “Wow, the iPhone?that’ll be one big upgrade!” Shields agreed.

Colette was most excited about the cell phone feature of the multi-dimensional technological wonder, however both cousins said that they planned on keeping their current iPods because they could hold more songs than the phone.

By 7:30 p.m., a little under 24 hours from the iPhone release, the Westfield Topanga line was made up of about eight iPhone hopefuls. Such was the scene across the Los Angeles area.

At 2 p.m. the following day, the Apple Stores completely closed in preparation for the big release. Two hours later, Apple followers everywhere were ushered into Apple Stores to buy their first iPhones.

There was plenty of mall security on hand at both the Northridge and Topanga locations, while excited customers entered the store to spend their $499 or $599 on the device.

“It was a little crazy but it was under control,” said one security guard at the Northridge Fashion Center who had been instructed to not give out his name.

According to, iPhone sales were estimated at 500,000 over the first weekend. Previous to the release, many technology critics had made up their minds one way or another. Now the choice is up to the consumer and the jury is still largely out.