Tales from the iPhone line in Atlantic City

Tales from the iPhone line in Atlantic City

Summary: I got up at the ungodly hour of 3:00 am this morning to go to the Apple Store in Atlantic City in an attempt to get a gold iPhone 5s. Here is my story.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Apple, iPhone
23
The window display at the Apple Store in Atlantic City - Jason O'Grady

I was conflicted as I set my alarm clock for 3:00 am on Thursday night.

Was waking up that early really necessary?

Or could I sleep another hour?

Then I started recalling the stories of constrained iPhone 5s models, especially in gold. As I lay in bed thinking about it, I considered skipping sleep altogether and just going immediately to the Apple Store on Thursday night. In the end, fatigue prevailed and I decided to get some sleep and wake up at 3:00 am as planned. 

Turns out that going to sleep was the better choice.

Almost as soon as I drifted off to sleep (or so it felt) my alarm was going off at 3:00 am. Luckily it was one of those smooth new tones that Apple includes with iOS 7, so it wasn't too jarring. I begrudgingly packed up my MacBook Air, iPad, a couple of phones, batteries, warm clothes and a folding chair.  

I arrived at my local Apple Store (in Atlantic City, NJ) at around 4:30 am (ET) this morning and there were already 27 people waiting in line on the boardwalk outside the The Pier at Caesars, a large shopping mall that extends out into the atlantic ocean. It's a unique retail location and quite beautiful when compared to most shopping malls. Luckily the wind wasn't blowing too hard off the ocean, so the temperature was tolerable. It was 51 degrees (F) out with a beautiful full moon.

Tales from the iPhone line in Atlantic City - Around 5 am - Jason O'Grady

About two hours later, at 6:30 am as the sun was rising, several retail staffers came out to brief the people waiting in line on how things were going to work. First, the bad news. There were no gold iPhone 5s', on any carrier and there were no carrier-unlocked iPhone 5s'. We could purchase a "full-price" iPhone 5s on AT&T, Verizon or Sprint -- without a contract -- but it would still be locked to that carrier. The iPhone 5c was available either subsidized or contract-free and carrier-unlocked with a T-Mobile SIM. She also told us that there was a limit of two iPhones per trip through the line, and a limit of ten in your lifetime.

Tales from the iPhone line in Atlantic City - Staff briefing - Jason O'Grady

The blue-shirted Apple staffers then came through the line and gave each person a square card and affixed a sticker to the card representing the iPhone that they wanted to purchase. They carried a binder for each mobile phone carrier with stickers for all of the iPhones that they had in stock and doled them out patiently and methodically. Once you had a stickered card, you were guaranteed that model phone. In an interesting twist, they gave us until closing time today (9 pm) to pick up our iPhone(s) with said sticker/card combination. We no longer had to wait in line and several people departed, presumably to come back later. 

Tales from the iPhone line in Atlantic City - Space Gray tickets - Jason O'Grady

Then at just before 8:00 am they let everyone into the mall via the side entrance, 15 people initially, then five at a time. Once inside, it was reminiscent of the lines at Disney World where you go inside the building, just to find another line. All-in-all the whole sticker/card system was pretty orderly because once we got inside the actual store, there were no decisions to be made. From there things went relatively smoothly, if you call constant fire alarm drills and borderline chaos "smooth."

Tales from the iPhone line in Atlantic City - Side Entrance - Jason O'Grady

The first person in line was Mark Targett (below) from Tuckerton, NJ. He arrived at the A.C. store at around noon on Thursday. The second person in line was Mark's friend Scott Harris (also from Tuckerton), who arrived at around 2:30 pm on Thursday. The next people didn't start arriving until around 9:00 pm on Thursday evening according to the duo. When I arrived at 4:30 am on Friday morning Mark told me (via the store manager) that the store had no gold iPhones, but that it was a possibility that some could arrive in their morning shipment, due at 7:00. But that didn't happen.

Tales from the iPhone line in Atlantic City - Mark Targett was first in line - Jason O'Grady

Cases for both phones were more plentiful than the phones that they're designed for, with a slight run on green cases for the iPhone 5c. After getting into the store at around 9:00 am I was able to procure two phones (iPhone 5s/64/AT&T and iPhone 5c/16 unlocked) and was on my way home by 9:30 am. The only snags were the lack of gold and carrier unlocked iPhone 5s' -- there was an audible groan from the crowd when the woman from Apple made those announcements. Overall the vibe was good and people were pretty well-behaved. It didn't hurt that the weather cooperated and that there's a Starbucks just up the boardwalk. 

What's your iPhone line experience?

Topics: Apple, iPhone

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

23 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Not everyone that participated in the California Gold Rush of 1849 found

    gold either. Then again, those seeking a gold iPhone might have been searching for something better known as "fools gold".
    kenosha77a
    • ..

      O...k...

      Your point being?
      WntermuteCA
      • Interesting comment, wasn't it?

        My first ever smartphone was the iPhone 5. It's been a great addition to my extensive Apple software and device ecosystem. And, with the release of iOS 7 and it's successful installation, my iPhone feels like new again.

        My point was, from Jason's blog comments, those that sought the gold iPhone felt extremely disappointed over it's non-availability. What they sought, in my opinion, was not the superb capabilities of this new generation of iPhone but rather something "else". That something else was what I poetically referred to as "fools gold".

        Those persons who waited in line but decided to purchase another model other than the gold toned iPhone were not blinded by a false sense of desire and I suspect that they will be rewarded with something that will give them, more likely than not, a superior experience over time.
        kenosha77a
  • You are kidding

    There is no electronic device worth waiting for, let alone an Apple product. I am quite happy with my Apple free existence, and I get to sleep in. In another year you will be back in line, and if you buy two each year, soon they won't let you in the line at all. Ha, Ha, Ha.
    M.M.Grimes
    • Exactly my thought....

      WHY????
      linux for me
    • Personally

      I'm content to wait for a while before getting the new iPhone - screw waiting in lines for it.
      athynz
  • Cool story...

    Thanks for doing your part to perpetuate consumerism!
    Playdrv4me
    • Even Russia abandoned socialism decades ago.

      You really should embrace capitalism and consumerism. It's what makes the world go round, you know.
      kenosha77a
  • What's your iPhone line experience?

    None, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express and used my Windows Phone 8 to read hilarious stories about lost souls waiting in line for overpriced under-featured communication devices that have tons of bugs, even with its problem-plagued "iOS 7" upgrade.

    Yes, drinking the Apple Kool-Aid yet again and riding with one of the worse customer satisfaction networks out there known as AT&T, I'd say you're in one lovely experience of extreme frustration. Oh what the heck, its only money, but I'm sure the gold phone would have made all the difference.
    WP7Lifer
    • embarrassment

      just want to let you know - the more you write like this, the more you are slapping the faces of the marketing people of Samsung, Nokia, Ms etc. because EVEN though they products are clearly having better and higher specs, there's no queue for their products, but this supposedly more inferior products from apple do...... please spare them this embarrassment and don't make them lose their jobs.
      travellersolo
    • Foul!

      Waaaiiit a minute, here. Your username says "WP7Lifer", which I assume refers to Windows Phone 7 Series Microsoft Mobile Device. Yet you talk about using a Windows Phone 8! That makes you A) weak B) dishonest C) ironic hipster or D) other.

      Not cool man. Not. Cool.

      Sent from my Windows Phone 7 Experience (naw, I'm just $hltting ya. I use the iFruit.)
      Doug Bott
    • And yet

      These lines are typical when Apple releases a new iPhone model - are you bent because there was no line for any WP7 or WP8 product?
      athynz
    • How well is Windows phone doing?

      Top of the range Windows phones are expensive and not doing that well. My iPhone 4S is running iOS 7 extremely well. I have not noticed any bugs either.
      marcandsebe
  • Humans are indeed

    Humans are indeed the strangest of all animals on this planet. This is yet another story which is proof positive, humans are the strangest of them all. If an Android phone had such and small and narrow screen, it would cost around a couple hundred bucks, as a low budget model. Actually the Nokia 520 has a better screen, in that it is not so narrow -- what are they, like $99 to $130.
    mytake4this
  • What's your iPhone line experience?

    Really! people still do that
    Rocky2013
  • Problems

    Lets see what problems these have this time.
    Makes me laugh at those who just have to have the latest phone so badly that they wait like that as if having one means something.
    Then there is always the various problems with them.
    Just wait a bit until the bugs are discovered and corrected and the phone that you want is easily available and your done.
    MoeFugger
  • Sad

    That humanity (the term is used loosely here) still plums to these depths.

    Getting up at 3:00am to go and queue for hours to get a phone. And a chav-tastic one at that.
    Boothy_p
  • kandy

    like Victor explained I'm dazzled that anyone can get paid $9763 in 1 month on the computer. Discover More......http://x.co/2OeY4
    kandylandy17
  • Marketing Case Study

    as a consumer, it's good for you to always keep a cool mind and not wasting time on a queue like this. But as from the marketing people's point of view, this phenomenon of Apple's "cult" is what they'd die to create for their products. Do you seriously think that Samsung, Nokia, MS etc. wouldn't wish at all that they too can achieve such level of fanaticism for their own products? do we really think that the Prada denim is worth 30 times the price of a no-brand denim from China? or is the Rolex watch really worth 40 times than an equivalent piece from Seiko? Look, Apple will be (if it hasn't already) a classic and unique study case of all marketing courses in all universities' business schools, and they will have to find out the true reasons that made it happen as it is now, a simple excuse of "iSheep" or "brainwashing" will only worth an "F", you'll have to do better than that.
    travellersolo
    • In my experience, I'd call it the "satisfied customer effect".

      When you have a satisfied customer, you have repeat business. Plain and simple. For all the haters' bloviation, they cannot deny that Apple has been minting satisfied customers for at least the last 15 years. Even after Steve Jobs left the first time and John Scully ran Apple, the company did produce rock-solid products that worked better than most of their competitors. When you have satisfied customers, a small portion become fanatical devotees. And since Apple has always been vertically integrated (combining its own hardware with its own software) there is no way to divide allegiances. The Wintel domination was built on Microsoft software and hardware from many vendors, so there has always been a division of loyalties- some people would become Microsoft fanatics, while others would become fanatics for one or other vendors (at least while that vendor was producing rock-solid products). As the vendors raced to the bottom and skimped more and more on service, love for them fell by the wayside, and the heavy-lifting needed to support so many different hardware vendors put an absolute ceiling on Microsoft's ability to produce rock-solid software. So there are comparatively fewer fanatics on the Wintel side than Apple. But of course, the sheer size of the Wintel ecosystem makes even a small percentage result in a lot of fanboys. But not enough of any one type to queue up for a new release. Of course, in the mobile space, Google has taken the Microsoft mantle, but suffers from the same issues. There is a lot of crap in the Android world, there are a few gems, but not enough from any one vendor to assure a massive fanboy army. And of course, there is divided loyalty, because you can be a Samsung fanboy or an Android OS fanboy (and considering the fragmentation of Android, you can be a Gingerbread fanboy or a Jelly Bean fanboy). And since (in my experience) the Android vendors spend very little on service and support (Google, the hardware vendors, and the carriers all seem to think that once they've sold you a phone they don't have to think about you ever again) it's hard to generate much enthusiasm for the next Galaxy S monstrosity.
      ssaha