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Midnight Madness: Benjamins for iPhones in Manhattan

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Pictured: the checkout line snakes around as we wait to give Apple moneyIn 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.  [digg=]

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.
Pictured: a security guard stands watch over the Apple Store Fifth Avenue entrance.

“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.

10 Responses to “Midnight Madness: Benjamins for iPhones in Manhattan”

  1. With iPhone prices dropping and new versions coming out, more consumers are using or will begin using the iPhone. Furthermore, many sites like social networking site Facebook and IM hosting site Meebo have come out with new iPhone-optimized sites. One company go2, a leading mobile media network, has optimized its entire network of more than 350 mobile sites for the iPhone, making access to information easy and convenient. To find out more, check out go2’s website.

  2. Let me just remind you that the EURO is way above the $$ right now… I bought mine (I’m living in the US though) for $399+tax=$420 more or less… At current exchange rate, that’s less than 300€ and just a little over 200£… Then you unlock and get the phone working in your own home provider.

    As a quick note, in Portugal, I had 3G data flatrate for 7.5€/month… (they did mention 100mb/month as “fair use limit” but that’s in “regular” cell phones… :))

    Somebody is making loads of cash =) lool

    PS: If people start getting robbed in the middle of the night, after leaving the Apple Store in NYC, it’s your fault! :p hehe

  3. “But isn’t it incredibly expensive to use them there?” Liz asked.

    It really insn’t – you unlock it for $25 online and then use in your local country with your local operator. The combination of price break – $299 and the ease of unlocking has opened up a tremendous international market!