So the iPhone went on sale Friday afternoon; America rejoiced, God smiled, and people who’d been waiting on line for three days could finally go take a shower. (We must say our favorite touch is the line of what seem to be Apple employees at left, applauding the dude for, you know, shopping.) Funny thing: After all the hysteria and lines and waiting and so forth, our friend walked into an AT&T store Saturday afternoon, bought an iPhone, and left in about a half-hour.
UPDATE: Aforementioned friend IMs: “Errata! I was in and out of Apple Store in 5 minutes.” Apparently reporting over drinks late on Saturday night doesn’t always yield complete accuracy. Who knew?
Earlier: Daily Intel’s we’re-giving-Steve-Jobs-exactly- what-he-wants iPhone coverage.
it happened this week
iPhone Is Here
This week’s issue of New York is a double issue, which means no issue next week, which means no “It Happened This Week” today. But that’s okay; we don’t need one. We all know what happened this week: The iPhone went on sale. iPhone! iPhone! iPhone iPhone iPhone. Remember how a few hours ago we told you there was virtually no line at several AT&T stores? Yeah, we just checked the one closest to the office — that’s at Madison and 46th — and, well, not so much anymore.
Countdown to iPhone: Reach Out and Touch an AT&T Store
Sure, people have been camped out for days in front of the Apple Stores. But they’ll be selling iPhones at AT&T stores, too, and — according to a spot check just performed by New York’s intrepid interns — Ma Bell is the place to be. At noon today there were 197 people on line in front of the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue and 59th Street; a dozen blocks south at the AT&T store at Fifth and 47th, eight people were waiting. After the jump, line lengths at six Manhattan iPhone locations, along with whatever other information we could glean.
So This Is Christmas
“X-Mas Came Early This Year” says the sign on the Christmas tree planted in front of the Soho Apple store. Being of the more Hanukkish persuasion, we’re not entirely up on every last Christmas tradition. But somehow we’ve always imagined snowy lawns, warm beds, and roaring fires — not steamy sidewalks, sleeping in chairs, and occasional pouring rain. Did we misunderstand something?
Earlier: Daily Intel’s we-realize-we’re-just-as-bad-as- they-are ongoing iPhone coverage.
Walking the iPhone Line
The iPhone! This afternoon! Yay. New York contributor Tim Murphy stopped by the Fifth Avenue Apple Store yesterday to check in with the crazies lined up on the sidewalk. What drives them to wait on line for this piece of technology? “It’s all about picking up girls, man,” one dude tells Tim. “You just pull that thing out, and that’s what it’s about.” Ain’t that always the way?
Street Level: iPhone Debut [NYM]
in other news
Countdown to iPhone: Two Important Thumbs Mostly Up
Been feeling smug lately, looking down at your friends who’d drank the Apple Kool-Aid? Convinced yourself that the phone wasn’t going to be all that? That you’d wait for the second generation? (“First-generation Apple products always suck” may be the single sentence we’ve heard most in downtown bars these last few days.) Yeah, well, the reviews are out today, and it looks like the crazies were right.
“But even in version 1.0, the iPhone is still the most sophisticated, outlook-changing piece of electronics to come along in years. It does so many things so well, and so pleasurably, that you tend to forgive its foibles. In other words, maybe all the iPhone hype isn’t hype at all. As the ball player Dizzy Dean once said, ‘It ain’t bragging if you done it.’” —David Pogue, New York Times
“Our verdict is that, despite some flaws and feature omissions, the iPhone is, on balance, a beautiful and breakthrough handheld computer. Its software, especially, sets a new bar for the smart-phone industry, and its clever finger-touch interface, which dispenses with a stylus and most buttons, works well, though it sometimes adds steps to common functions.” —Walt Mossberg and Katherine Boehret, The Wall Street Journal
And at 3 p.m. this afternoon — that’s 51 hours before the thing goes on sale — ten people were queued up in front of the Fifth Avenue Apple store. It’s 92 degrees out.
Earlier: Daily Intel’s coverage of the iPhone.
Related: Steve Jobs in a Box [NYM]
in other news
Countdown to iPhone: The Lines Begin
What hope does a covetous indie-film star have? The iPhone doesn’t go on sale till 6 p.m. Friday, but as Racked reports, queues at the midtown and Soho Apple stores started forming yesterday. Here, the first guy on line at each location. (We suspect this isn’t the first time the guy in midtown has slept out for days for something.) Good luck, kids.
iPhrenzy: The First People in Line [Racked]
Have We Found the First iPhone Problem?Coming to the end of our cell-phone contract a few weeks ago, we called AT&T Wireless to inquire about abandoning our current provider and maybe, just maybe, getting our mitts on an iPhone. Could she help us with that? She could. “I’ll add you to my waiting list and call you on June 29 to sign you up,” she told us. Sure, it cost way too much, and sure, all our friends were warning us against first-generation new Apple products. But we were curiously excited about having the actual Internet in our pockets — such fast NYTimes.com browsing in that commercial! — and we shoved our worries to the back of our minds. We were counting the days. Then, Monday, the AT&T saleswoman called. Preregistration? An early phone? Far from it. Now, it seems, the iPhone won’t be available for telephone sales from AT&T, the friendly saleswoman sadly told us. Due to a glitch, she said, the phones can only be activated at store locations. “Most brand-new phones are recalled,” she said. Oh. We called T-Mobile, renewed our contract, and upgraded to a Blackberry Pearl. In white. —Fiona Byrne
Related: Steve Jobs in a Box [NYM]
in other news
One Day Our Cell Phones Will Be Judged Not By the Color of Their Shell But By the Content of Their FeaturesThe Wall Street Journal is breathlessly reporting on an announcement from BlackBerry yesterday that the company is planning to “strike back” against the new iPhone by releasing – drumroll, please – a new BlackBerry Pearl. We scanned the article eagerly, excited to find what further features would finally let the Goliath knock Apple’s David to the ground, but we could only find one change: The formerly black Pearl will now also be available in white . (To be frank, we’re a little mystified that a product called “Pearl” didn’t come in white in the first place.) Now, we’re fine with the white cell phone riding up to save the day when the black cell phone just can’t cut it – but we’re wondering, who decided to announce that on Martin Luther King Day?
BlackBerry Pearl Goes White [WSJ (subscription)]
Now, a White BlackBerry Pearl! [Techtree]
in other news
New Yorker Makes Your Cell Phone the Best Etch-a-Sketch Ever
It’s all thanks to the geniuses in Cupertino that you’ll soon be able to ditch your barely functioning Razr for the oh-so-shiny new iPhone, right? Wrong! We’re sure you’ll be as thrilled as we were to learn that a major part of the iPhone’s cooler-than-thou technology — the first touch screen that allows you to simultaneously use two fingers to manipulate two things, like Tom Cruise in Minority Report — was created by a New Yorker: Jeff Han, a research scientist for NYU’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. The video above reveals the fascinating possibilities. Whether the phone plays trippy music every time you minimize Mom to order some Domino’s? Unclear.
Multi-Touch Interaction Research [nyu.edu via MUG]
Earlier: Steve Jobs Wows the Faithful (But What About Those Options?)
the morning line
A Third-Rate Burglary?
• As we cynically predicted, the story of Giuliani’s suddenly public ‘08 battle plan swiftly moved from the plan’s contents to who obtained it and how; the Giuliani camp says it was “borrowed” from an aide’s suitcase, photocopied, and returned. Exciting stuff. [NYS]
• A construction worker dubbed a “Subway Superman” (by both tabs) leaped in front of an oncoming train to drag a stranger to safety. Better yet, he did it while wearing a ski cap with a Playboy Bunny, which is mysteriously logo-free on the Post cover. [NYDN; NYP]
• Subpoenas continue to fly in the Joe Bruno probe. The State Senate chief — and, as of two days ago, New York’s top Republican — is under scrutiny for corruption, and the latest FBI target is an Albany investment firm Bruno did consulting for. [NYDN]
• NYC taxis will help map out the city’s many pesky cell-signal dead zones: Ericsson, the Stockholm-based phone maker, got the Taxi & Limousine Commission to install sensors in cab trunks. The Swedes are under the cute illusion that “cabs go everywhere.” [Fox News]
• And in a bit of truly silly timing, Cites — an international environmental agency — lifted its ban on sevruga and osetra caviar imports from the Caspian Sea. The news should send corks popping at Petrossian and become relevant to the general consumer in, let’s see, about 362 days. [NYT]
Hasidic Jews Reject Evil Text Messaging, Sprint Service
Plaintiff: Yeshiva Yagdil Torah, a New York Corp. doing business as Vaad Harabbonim Letikshoreth
Defendants: Sprint Solutions Inc.; Sprint P.C.S.; Sprint Nextel Corp.; Sprint Communications Co.
Accusation: In 2005, a group of rabbis formed a council to find a way Hasidic Jews could use cell phones without getting exposed to soul-corrupting text messages and spam. They enlisted the help of Sprint Nextel in developing something called a Kosher Phone: a so-called “plain vanilla” voice phone that would preclude the very possibility of going online, and the attendant temptations. Of course, it didn’t work.
in other news
Stand Clear of the Ringing PhonesFour companies submitted bids back in January to wire the subway for cell service — that is, depending on your point of view, to either modernize your commute or to make it a living hell. And say what you will about the MTA, but it’s certainly taking the proposal seriously: It’s been “in discussions” with the bidders for ten months, without any visible result.
But as today’s Times tells us without really telling us, there’s a presumptive front-runner in the process, a company called Transit Wireless, which has hired Al D’Amato as a “consultant” (not, mind you, as a lobbyist). The former senator, the company says (and the Times poker-facedly passes on), will limit his input to “strategic advice” and a litany of grade-A connections, including his close friendship with MTA chairman Peter Kalikow, from whom his company rents office space. Oh, and Al’s been pushing for subway cell service since 2004, arranging early meetings with the future bidders and the MTA. But other than that, advice only.
So, anyway, what have they accomplished in ten months? Well, not much. The MTA hasn’t even decided if it’s wiring the whole system or just stations. But of course not: It’s too busy putting enough cameras to shoot a sitcom on every bus. Not to mention pottering around with little projects like linking the trains to airports, getting the L to run on weekends, and, oh, yeah, planning that little line on Second Avenue. Priorities, priorities.
Cellphone Service in Subway Stations Is Still a Gleam in the Bidders’ Eyes [NYT]