US Report: iMac frenzy hits US

When the doors opened, some scurried down the escalator to touch and experience the computer they'd heard so much about. Others scrambled to the cash register to get their hands on their pre-booked machines.

When the doors opened, some scurried down the escalator to touch and experience the computer they'd heard so much about. Others scrambled to the cash register to get their hands on their pre-booked machines. In all, about 20 consumers showed up before the store opened to check out the sleek, translucent machine Apple had designed with them in mind. The store plans to go through its entire stock by the end of the weekend.

George Arce was the first out the door with his new iMac, rolling the giant box in a shopping cart through the store's front doors like a proud parent wheeling his baby. "Now I need a cab, that's what I need," he said. Arce, who prebooked the computer so he could get one in time for graduate classes beginning Monday, is precisely the user Apple dreamed would want the machine.

A former PC user, Arce was convinced by a friend to consider the iMac. "It looks pretty nice, it's supposed to be really easy to use, to get you on the Internet," he said. But the deciding factor? "Price," said Arce, who'd just charged the $1,299 (£792) machine on his credit card.

Others were simply loyal Mac fans.

Larry Weinberg was one of the first in line, afraid he wouldn't get a machine because he hadn't prebooked. "It seems like it's going to be real hard to get," he said. Weinberg, an artists' agent in San Francisco, was updating an older Mac machine, and planned to use the iMac to surf the Net.

Weinberg liked Apple's promise that the iMac would be speedy and simple to use, but he remembered briefly reconsidering his decision when he found out the computer doesn't have a floppy drive. "At first I was concerned, then I realised, I never use a floppy drive," he said. Earle Swede, the store's general manager, said he was already awaiting another shipment of iMacs. He said prebookings peaked on Friday, as promotions ran wild and word got out that demand would be strong.

Although the iMac didn't stir up as much interest at the store as the launch of Windows 95 or 98, it brought more Apple fans into the store than CompUSA has seen in a while. "Anytime you have one item getting this kind of frenzy attached to it, it's exciting," Swede said. "This will get people to take a second look at Apple."

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