Yes, people lined up last night for the latest iPhone. Despite over 4 million pre-orders and a new system that lets line-waiters take a number on their iPhone, there were still hundreds of people lining up at the Grand Central Apple Store on Friday morning in New York City before the 8am iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus launch. The line I saw wrapped around two sides of the Midtown block.
At the front of the line, the people queueing up were mostly Chinese immigrants, with the customer mix getting more diverse as the line stretched backwards. Chinese immigrant resellers used to be a common sight at New York [company]Apple[/company] launches, but the phenomenon had waned in recent years as China started to get the iPhone on the same day as the United States. But since China currently is not yet scheduled to receive the iPhone 6 — at least until some regulatory issues are sorted out — the resellers are back out in force.
When arriving at the line, an army of Apple Store staffers proactively guided customers to the right spots. People who had pre-ordered using the new digital reservation system got shifted to a shorter line, whereas the rest of the people without an reservation email from Apple — some of whom did not know you could pre-order — had to queue up and take what was left.
One young man, Peter, did not expect to get what he came for. Although he had started lining up at midnight, he did not think he would get the iPhone 6 Plus he wanted because Apple Store staff “came around and told us the Plus would be done by the time they got here.” He was in the first third of the line without pre-orders.
Several businesses tried to take advantage of the large captive crowd on a New York street. Representatives from USell and iCracked looking to buy old devices went from person to person, handing out fliers promising to buy people’s old phones at a better price than the Apple Store.
People who normally hand out newspapers to commuters focused their attention on the weary iPhone-seekers in line. In particular, there were several different women selling China-focused English-language Epoch Times newspapers for $1. I asked one at the front of the line how many Chinese speakers were waiting for the new iPhone. “Too many,” she said. “The iPhone is not for sale in China, so they can sell it and make a lot of money.”