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Customers line up at Valley Mall for iPhones

June 30, 2007|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

At 6:01 p.m., the wait was over.

The first wave of customers flooded into the AT&T Wireless store at Valley Mall Friday night, eager to get their hands on Apple's new iPhone.

Rujul Shah, 20, of Martinsburg, W.Va., was the first person in line. He had been waiting since 10 a.m.

"I have to get it," Shah said. "There's nothing else out there like it."

The iPhone - a combination phone, iPod and Web browser that costs between $500 and $600 - has created a frenzy typically reserved for Tickle Me Elmos and PlayStations.

More than 80 people were waiting in line when the phone went on sale at 6 p.m. The line stretched across the front of the store and wrapped around a nearby kiosk. In cities such as New York and Los Angeles, some people camped out overnight to make sure they got one.

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"I've never waited in line for anything, but I figured, 'Why not?'" said Zach Brisco of Hagerstown, who said he had been waiting for an hour. Brisco said he was most excited about the iPhone's fully functional Web browser, which allows users to type, click links and view Web pages in full color.

"I'm away from the house a lot, so it's nice to have that," Brisco said.

Ian Yack, program execution analyst for AT&T Wireless, said the phone has been in production for about two years. He said it provides more functional music and Web service than any other phone on the market.

"A lot of phones have Web capability, and a lot of phones have MP3s, but none do it with the ease of the iPhone," Yack said.

One of the phone's most unique features is its touch-screen capability, which lets users dial numbers, key in Web addresses and play songs without pressing a button.

"I love how you can use your finger to just flip through photos or whatever," said Robin Grim of Boonsboro. "It's so neat."

Grim was buying an iPhone for her son in Florida, who was too sick to go to the store.

The group of customers lined up outside the store Friday included a contractor waiting in line for his boss, a husband and wife with their sleeping 6-month old son and several self-professed Apple fans. Not all considered themselves technically savvy, but all were eager to see what the iPhone could do.

"It's a really innovative product," said Joe Lambdin of Hagerstown. "I'm just excited to see what all it can do."

At 6:15 p.m., the first customers began trickling out of the store, all with smiles on their faces. By 7 p.m., the phones were sold out.

Yack said that customers still could order iPhones and have them delivered within a week. But for those who waited in line Friday, a week was too long.

"It was worth the wait," said Shah as he clutched his orange and white bag. "I've got one now."

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