In New York this week for the NewTeeVee Pier Screenings, I was stranded without a crucial piece of Apple (AAPL) equipment and had to make an emergency run to the store tonight. I decided that with the time difference in my favor I’d go out and see my cousin’s friend’s band first, since she had told me the Fifth Avenue Apple Store is open 24 hours.
After cabbing over, I descended from the street, through the glass cube, and into the store shortly before 1 a.m. I was shocked to see that it was totally packed. I grabbed what I needed, got in line, and asked the guy in front of me what was going on at 1 a.m. on a Wednesday.”Oh, I’ve seen it this bad at 3 a.m.,” he replied. An Apple Store employee later said that it never, ever slows down. It took 15 minutes of waiting in line just to get to the counter.
So what is every in such a rush to buy in the middle of the night? iPhones. Five at a time. I started looking around and realized everyone else in line was clutching stacks of twenties. The guy in front of me had hundreds. “Where do you sell these?” I wanted to know. “Europe,” he said.
“But isn’t it incredibly expensive to use them there?” I asked. “Yeah, the data fees are crazy. But people still want to buy them, so that’s not my problem,” he replied. I asked the clerk who helped me if he had any idea how much money the store pulls in each night. He said he had no idea.
Maybe buying a phone at midnight and carrying fistfuls of cash around is just something busy, crazy New Yorkers do — who am I to judge!? However the experience made it clear to me that three months after the iPhone went on sale, things like unlocking, slow data rates, and high-ticket prices have yet to knock sense into people’s heads. The iPhone phenomenon is far from losing steam.
Photo #1:The checkout line snakes around as we wait to give Apple money.
Photo #2: A security guard stands watch over the Apple Store Fifth Avenue entrance.