NEW YORK CITY-- Hearing that Apple's new iPhone 5's had sold out in less than an hour last week, aspiring upgraders may have concluded that getting the new smartphone today, or even this week, would be a nightmare. Dramatic news accounts of Apple fans sleeping out for days probably didn't help, either.
But, as TechNewsDaily found after hitting the streets and talking to retailers, getting an iPhone 5 on day one hasn't been so bad — especially if you stayed away from Apple stores.
[SEE ALSO: Meet the Naked Cowboy of iPhone Repairmen]
There are plenty more options beyond the roughly 250 Apple stores in the U.S. Other major retailers include Best Buy (with 1,400 locations), Wal-Mart (600), Radio Shack (4,600), and local AT&T (roughly 2,300) and Verizon stores (more than 2,000).Sprint did not reply in time for this article, but it issued a statement to the press that stock was running low on the East Coast.
In general, the number of people in line has been manageable. "We're averaging about thirty or so [at our stores]," said Brenda Rainey, a spokesperson for Verizon Wireless, referring to the company’s stores all over the U.S. "They are comfortable lines."
That jibes with what TechNewsDaily found on the streets of Manhattan. This reporter crossed the street to a Verizon store on Fifth Ave. and 21st St. at about 8:45 a.m. At around 9:15, I walked out with a white, 32 GB model. And whites are rare. A salesperson at the Verizon store told us that they had about 30 iPhones of each capacity — 16GB, 32GB and 64GB. But only about five in each capacity were white.
Even at Apple stores, conditions were tolerable. At the iconic glass-cube branch on Fifth Ave. and 58th St., some fans had been "occupying" the marble plaza for several days. But most of the roughly 500 to 1,000 people had arrived that morning — albeit as early as 3:00 a.m. — in anticipation of the 8:00 a.m. opening. And Apple moved them through quickly. A colleague entered the store about 10:30 AM and left 40 minutes later with a black 16GB model for the AT&T Network.
[SEE ALSO: The iPhone 5 — How Did We Get Here?]
The line was also mild at Grand Central Station — yes, Grand Central. To keep from clogging up the busy main hall, Apple shunted customers off to a line of perhaps 100 to 200 people in a side hallway.
None of this is to dismiss the popularity of the latest iPhone. It seems on its way to being Apple's greatest blockbuster. If anything, the comfortable lines are a tribute to how prepared Apple and other retailers were for the flood of customers.