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In New York Apple Store Lines, Startup Hustlers and Chinese Resellers Replace Hipsters and Fanboys

New York Apple Store line
New York Apple Store line

(Daniel Howley/ Yahoo Tech)

The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus officially went on sale Friday morning, which means the masses of humanity sitting outside your local Apple Store are finally on their way toward the cash register and off the streets.

You probably have a certain image of someone who would wait in line for an iPhone: mid-20s, scruffy beard, white earbuds playing some gentle indie music. You know: Like the actors in Samsung’s famous advertisements mocking Apple lines of years past.

Hipsters in line
Hipsters in line

A still from Samsung’s Apple-mocking ad. (Samsung/YouTube)

In New York, however, that representation wasn’t quite accurate. Gone were the bustling groups of hipsters and college students, replaced by startup hustlers looking for publicity, Chinese entrepreneurs in the reselling business, and, surprisingly, large families, many with elderly members, playing cards and sitting on small wooden stools. The line was predominantly Asian, as many have noted: News that the new iPhone might not arrive in China until 2015 means a lucrative black market for those who are able to resell American-bought iPhones there.

The sea change in the people who line up for the iPhone launch would seem to indicate that many of the younger, more tech-savvy Apple fans out there chose to preorder their devices online and have them delivered to their cozy apartments, rather than waiting outside. Or perhaps they went to their wireless carrier’s store, or to the mall, or to a big-box electronics outlet — somewhere a bit more reliable.

After all, even if you wait in line for hours for a new iPhone, you’re not guaranteed to get one.

At Apple’s iconic Fifth Avenue location, people were lined up for blocks. For those waiting at the end of the line, Apple employees told us there’s a chance that most of those waiting for a new iPhone wouldn’t get one, and would instead have to take a raincheck.

That’s essentially the same thing that would happen if you tried to order an iPhone 6 online after preorders ran out. You’d still be able to place an order, but you’d have to wait until enough phones were in stock to get yours.

New York Apple Store line
New York Apple Store line

(Daniel Howley/ Yahoo Tech)

At the front of the line for the Fifth Avenue Apple Store were Moon Ray and her husband, Jason. The couple took up their spot to raise awareness for an app called Video Medicine, which helps people in rural areas get access to doctors.

How long did they have to wait to get the coveted first spot in line? Eighteen days. That’s right: more than two weeks of camping outside the Apple Store. During that time, the two used the local YMCA to shower and freshen up. The Apple Store also gave the pair access to its facilities.

Lines at the 68th Street store were far shorter –– still reaching just over three blocks of Manhattan streets. People began lining up at that store the day before the iPhone launch, while others jumped in line Thursday night.

With such a drastic change in atmosphere from Apple’s first few iPhone launches to this year’s, it seems that, in New York at least, many Apple fans would just rather order their phones online. Plus, as iPhone launches have become commodified, hipsters have been edged out by the economically savvy.

The spontaneous show of affection for Apple has been replaced by those looking to advertise their companies or bring in a hefty resalesman’s payday. The iTimes, they are a-changing. 

Email Daniel at dhowley@yahoo-inc.com; follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley or on Google+ here.