Long lines of several hundred people greeted the dawn and the birth of a new cellphone Friday at Arden Fair mall as Apple devotees patiently waited for their chance to get their hands on the iPhone 6.
Many of those who arrived were there to buy more than one iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus.
Celeste Hardy, who arrived at Arden Fair at 10 p.m. Thursday, waited for a gold, smaller version of the iPhone 6. She also wanted to buy three to sell.
“I’ll wait in line because they are going for $1,000 online,” she said. Hardy, about 30th in line, figures the cheapest she can buy one at the store would be $250.
“People will pay,” she said. “They don’t want to wait for a month. They want it now.”
Apple employees in blue formed two rows and clapped when the first customer, Matt Salvo, 33, entered the Sacramento store at 8 a.m.
Salvo was first in line because he got to Arden Fair at 4:30 p.m. Thursday. He was buying two iPhones, a smaller phone for his personal use and one of the new, larger iPhone 6 versions.
“People seem to like those,” he said. “I wanted to get the larger one for myself, but it won’t fit in my pocket.”
Salvo said he loves the iPhone and its opening-sale-day atmosphere, which is why he’s willing to wait in line for hours.
“This is my version of sports,” Salvo said. “We all have a team. Apple is my team. It’s fun.”
Similar scenes of Apple devotees snapping up the iPhone 6 models occurred across the country, as well as overseas. The phones also went on sale Friday in Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, France, Germany and Great Britain. In New York, at Apple’s store on Fifth Avenue, police officers put up barricades as a line stretched more than 10 blocks and the crowd cheered for 15 minutes before the phones officially went on sale, according to Bloomberg News.
Apple’s iPhone rollout is the most important event this year for the Cupertino company, according to Bloomberg. Apple CEO Tim Cook is counting on the handsets, which generate more than half of the company’s annual $171 billion in revenue, to maintain Apple’s sales growth. The new iPhones have screens of 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches, compared with 4 inches for previous models, helping Apple appeal to new consumers and compete with larger screens from rivals like Samsung.
Not everyone who showed up at Sacramento’s Arden Fair store was there to buy a phone. About 50 to 75 union protesters showed up at midmorning, carrying signs and handing out fliers to protest low wages for service employees who clean buildings, cook in kitchens, do maintenance and work security jobs at Silicon Valley high-tech campuses.
Lino Pedres, president of the Sacramento Labor Council and vice president of SEIU, United Service Workers West, said several unions had “a good turnout” in Sacramento. The protest was part of a nationwide campaign that targeted Apple stores in 20 cities.
“We want Apple to share the wealth, create good jobs and allow their employees to join unions,” Pedres said. “Apple is the target now, but we’d like to work with all high-tech corporations to do the right thing.”
Steve Reed, Arden Fair’s security chief, showed up at 4 a.m. to watch over the crowds. He estimated that several hundred people were in various lines strategically placed by security inside and outside the mall.
“They started lining up last night,” said Reed. “We didn’t let them on the property until about 4:15 a.m. this morning, so they kind of lined up on Arden Way,” on the sidewalk outside the mall’s parking lot.
Inside the mall, there were separate lines for those who had preordered their phones and for those who waited to buy on a first-come-first-served basis. Analysts have predicted that Apple could sell anywhere from 7 million to 15 million new iPhone 6s this weekend. Last year’s new iPhone debut sold 8 million.
Reed, a veteran of several first-day iPhone manias, said Friday’s crowd was very orderly, but interest in the bigger screen was “extremely high on this one.” By noon, the line of Apple customers was still halfway down the mall to Macy’s, Reed said.
As long as the supply of iPhone 6 models holds up, Reed said, “There’ll be another line (Saturday) morning.”