iPhone 5 Mania Descends on New York City

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DON EMMERT / AFP / Getty Images

Apple employees applaud as shoppers exit the Apple store on Fifth Avenue as the new iPhone 5 is delivered on September 21, 2012 in New York.

Year after year, launch after launch, Apple fans continue to show their unending fanaticism, lining up overnight – and even for days – to get their hands on the company’s latest iPhone. The iPhone 5, Apple’s sixth iteration, was released Friday. It’s a thinner, lighter and faster phone that is, again, sending eager fans clamoring to buy it. Hundreds camped outside of Apple’s flagship New York store adjacent to Central Park to be among the first in line.

Even after doors opened around 8 a.m. Friday, a crowd of a few hundred was still gathered in the plaza, snaking through the police barricades set up to contain the anxious buyers. What seemed like an equally large number of Apple staffers, clad in bright blue shirts, flanked the entrance to the sleek glass cube that unmistakably marks the entrance to the store. The first owners to trickle out of the store, betraying various states of exhaustion, were greeted by a rush of applause from Apple staff members and a spontaneously-gathered crowd.

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Greg Parker was among the first to emerge from the underground store, raising his hands victoriously and high-fiving Apple employees and strangers alike. Parker, 49, told a group of reporters that he’d been waiting in line since Tuesday. He had no qualms about paying the $700 face value for the phone, in order to ditch his iPhone 4 and get the higher-powered iPhone 5. There was a limit of two iPhone 5s purchases per person, and many initial buyers seemed to have taken their purchases to that cap.

Some consumers were bundled up in sweatshirts and jackets after a low of 54 degrees descended on New York overnight. Folding chairs and tents were just as prolific as the white Apple bags they carried.

Without a doubt, though, the exhaustion and tedium quickly faded as the new owners reached the end of their wait. With shades of Stockholm Syndrome, they stuck around the harsh concrete plaza they had called home, unable to wait longer to dive into their new iPhones. Many tossed their packaging away on the sidewalk and unboxed their new devices on the spot as cameras looked on.

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Naturally, advertisers saw the opportunity for trickle-down profit, gathering on the sidewalk in front of the store to hawk their wares to victorious buyers. Case manufacturers like OtterBox clamored to outfit the new phones in their particular brand of protection. And one GPS app maker was on hand to circulate fliers – the coincidence hardly conspicuous after Apple’s new Maps program has received almost unanimous pans. Also conspicuously present: people holding up handwritten posterboards offering to buy iPhones for the right price.

Consumers who preordered their iPhones, while not having to stand in a physical line, will be subjected to more of a wait: online sales won’t start shipping until next week. Analysts estimate as many as 10 million iPhone 5s will be purchased before September ends.

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