By Siemond Chan and Elizabeth Trotta
Is Apple's (AAPL) new iPhone different enough to make you want to buy a new one? Sixty seven percent of those who have responded to the poll on Yahoo! Finance today said "no." But for those who did want one, at least in New York City, there were lines (as there were around the world), but things moved fairly quickly and in an orderly fashion. Lines, but no "human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria" to be seen around the momentous (or not so much) availability in stores of the iPhone 5. Maybe it was the preordering or the orderliness (Apple stores have been through this drill).
At the Apple store at Grand Central Station in New York, the line formed at 7 a.m. ahead of iPhone 5 sales that started at 8 a.m. Customers were let into the store in groups of five to 10 people at a time. The black 64G iPhones sold out by 10:30 a.m. A police officer at the store, who had been stationed there since 7 a.m., said at 10:45 that around 2,000 people had come and gone.
Yao Lin (left) arrived at 9 a.m. and was out the door by 10:13 with two iPhone 5s — one for himself and one for a friend. Another customer arrived at the store at around 9:45 a.m. and walked out of store with the 32G black iPhone half an hour later. And yet another customer, in New York for business, went into the store to check out the iPhone 5 because of the unexpectedly short line — and ultimately bought one.
Believe it or not, not all of these people were here to buy iPhone 5s. Jane Worell, from New York, came to buy a case for an iPhone she already ordered online last week. Unfortunately for her, Apple wasn't selling the cases.
Two Russian tourists (left), Anastasia Mitielova and Catemina Lakovleva, stopped in Grand Central to check it out, with no intention to buy one. Mitielova ultimately purchased an iPhone4, because iPhone5 is not affordable for her.
One reason for the orderly nature and ease of checkout could be the heavy volume of preordered phones. Apple said there were more than 2 million preorders for the iPhone 5 in the 24 hours of availability — more than double the volume seen for the iPhone 4S. By Wednesday of this week, Apple's website noted that ordering any of the iPhone 5 models — 16GB, 32GB and 64GB — would take up to three to four weeks to ship.