By 7:30 a.m. Thursday, Gwen Sabino of Burlingame was already in line at the Apple store in Burlingame to purchase the iPhone 5. But by mid-afternoon, she was joined by 100 people in a line that stretched around the corner on Park Avenue and up the alleyway behind the Apple Store, Sabino said.
There was a strong sense of community at the Burlingame Apple Store since customers had to wait outside. People were talking like they had been neighbors for years, and employees were walking up and down the line asking questions and saying hello.
"This is my first time standing in line,” Sabino said. “I like all the new features and read all the reviews. I heard this was Steve Jobs' last project."
Many start-ups even saw this feeding opportunity free terrain for start-up advertising.
Founder and CEO Curtis Minor, Jr. of “Geeks for You,” a computer and appliance repair business, offered to buy pizza for people and a few accepted the offer.
"Yeah, I offered to buy pizza before I knew Apple was providing food,” Minor, Jr., said, who arrived at the store at 2 p.m. Thursday. “I am an IT. I do it to help people. I also want to show I am standing in line right along with them."
While in line munching on various goodies, customers had plenty of hours to contemplate the big question of the day: black or white.
Sabino immediately said white because the new color wasn’t available for the iPhone 4, her current phone.
Minor, Jr., staunchly stood by the traditional black, “that’s the only color,” he said.
With just a few hours till opening, some people in line were sleep deprived, staring straight ahead like zombies and nodding in response to questions.
But at 7:15 a.m. the Apple Store provided a small tease to perk up even the sleepiest of those waiting in line. The curtains in front of the store were drawn back and people could see employees getting ready for the opening.
Over at Hillsdale Mall, the line snaked around the mall.
With plenty of security guards around, it was a much more sterile environment than the atmosphere outside the Burlingame store. Apple did set up a cart with water and snacks and there were some friendly people walking around talking to people.
Most just said they were there for the latest features and thought it would make a big difference in the way they did business or talked to people.
It was a much younger crowd at Hillsdale. Many older folks stood in line in Burlingame, and Burlingame was the more lively crowd.
The store was brightly-lit several minutes before opening and at least 30 employees were getting their last minutes instructions.
And at 8 a.m. sharp, the doors opened and a loud cheer erupted.
The crowd was rather polite when entering the doors, no where close to a stampede rushing to get their hands on the latest product.
The customers who were interviewed, but didn’t want to give their names, said it was neat to be one of the first to get "the next big thing," or that it was like a tradition to stand in line.
Retailer stores also experienced lines outside their doors. At the AT&T store in Belmont, 10 people were already standing in line at 6:30 a.m.
Let us know in the comments: What do you think of the new iPhone 5?