I arrived at the AT&T store in downtown Berkeley, CA at about 8:10 this morning and the line stretched out the door, down the street, and around the corner for a total of about three city blocks. City blocks being "the long blocks," in NYC parlance. An AT&T rep was manning the front door, letting folks in one or two at a time and then closing the door behind them to stave off the rabid ? I mean, totally mellow ? crowd.
The rep wouldn't tell me how many iPhone 3Gs they had to sell today. "Apple policy," she said. I put on my best angry consumer face and fired back with, "So the people three blocks away don't know if it's worth skipping work to stand in line?" "I'm not allowed to disclose that information, sir," she cooly replied. Frankly, she did a great job of rebuffing my lame attempt at playing the angry lunatic.
So I turned to the line and talked to Brian and Gordon, two Berkeley guys who were at the front of the line around 8:15 am. They'd been there since 5:30 AM and told me the first folks had lined up at 3. "The first 15 people were all here by 6," Brian said. He was there to replace his pink SLVR - "I hate it," he cried - with a 16GB white iPhone, while Gordon needed a new phone since the speaker on his Blackjack had given out. He was waiting for an 8 gigger but didn't know which color he wanted. "Oh," he said, taken aback. "I haven't figured it out yet." I understand, man - downtown Berkeley at 5:30 am can be a disorienting place. I'm hoping he opted for the black. (Video interview with them coming soon)
I headed to the very back of the line and talked to some folks who'd just shown up within the past 20 minutes. Nobody wanted to go on camera - one guy said he "Couldn't be seen here," which I assume meant he was ditching work or class to wait in line - but one of them told me he wasn't worried about AT&T having an iPhone left to sell by the time he reached the front. "I talked to the girl at the door just now," he explained. "I asked her, 'If it was you, would you go get in the back of the line right now?' She said they have more iPhones than they need, so I got in line. I'm not worried about it."
Meantime, a friendly woman in a black dress started going down the line pushing a cart filled with free water and candy for line-sitters. "Are you with AT&T," I asked? "Yes," she smiled, and reached a hand to the front of her outfit. "I guess I should put my name tag on, huh?"