TBO.com, The Tampa Tribune and The Tampa Times - breaking news and weather
Monday, Jul 28, 2014
Local News

iPhone 5 launch draws lines in Tampa, worldwide

TBO.com
Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 01:48 PM

In a now familiar ritual, Apple fans jammed shops Friday from Tampa to Sydney to Paris to pick up the tech juggernaut's latest iPhone.

Outside International Plaza in Tampa, more than 150 shoppers in line before dawn Friday. Some had camped since 2 p.m. the day before.

"It's iPhone 5, why not?" said Krayer Zimring, who was first in line. "A lot of interesting people. A lot of fun people. Yah, just a lot of fun."

At 7:05 a.m. Friday, the first group of customers – with vouchers handed out by Apple employees – was allowed inside the mall, where they waited for the store to open at 8.

And after the long wait, they got their hands on the thinner, lighter iPhone 5, which has a taller screen and faster processor than its predecessor. There is also updated software, and it can work on faster "fourth generation" mobile networks.

"I'm thrilled. It definitely has a different feel to it. So I think it's going to take some getting used to," said customer Jade Williams. "But I think it will be worth it to be the first one in town. … I'm excited to have that status."

Williams waited 12 hours outside the mall before getting her phone, but that wasn't the case for everyone. Other customers beat the long line by shopping at a Verizon store down the mall or at an AT&T store on South Dale Mabry Highway.

"It is what it is. I guess we outsmarted them," said David Feldman, who arrived at the Apple store at 2 a.m. but left after hearing about the Verizon store. "We're apple nuts so we had to have the phone."

Luis Flores also thought it best not to wait with the crowd.

"I don't know, there are other stores out there," said Flores, who bought his iPhone at the AT&T outlet. "The Apple store, I mean there are 100 people over there. So this is the best option right now to come here early and try to get it."

Long lines were also seen at other Apple stores around the globe - in Asia, Europe and North America – where eager shoppers hoped to be the first to get their hands on the latest version of the smartphone.

In London, some shoppers had camped out for a week in a queue that snaked around the block. In Hong Kong, the first customers were greeted by staff cheering, clapping, chanting "iPhone 5! iPhone 5!" and high-fiving them as they were escorted one-by-one through the front door.

The smartphone went on sale in the United States and Canada hours after its launch in Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Britain, France and Germany. It will launch in 22 more countries a week later.

The phone has become a hot seller despite initial lukewarm reviews and new map software that is glitch prone. Apple received 2 million orders in the first 24 hours of announcing its release date, more than twice the number for the iPhone 4S in the same period when that phone launched a year ago.

Some fans went to extremes to be among the first buyers by arriving at Apple's flagship stores day ahead of the release.

In downtown Sydney, Todd Foot, 24, showed up three days early to nab the coveted first spot. He spent about 18 hours a day in a folding chair, catching a few hours' sleep each night in a tent on the sidewalk.

Foot's dedication was largely a marketing stunt, however. He writes product reviews for a technology website that will give away the phone after Foot reviews it.

"I just want to get the phone so I can feel it, compare it and put it on our website," he said while slumped in his chair.

In Paris, the phone launch was accompanied by a workers' protest — a couple dozen former and current Apple employees demonstrated peacefully to demand better work benefits. Some decried what they called Apple's transformation from an offbeat company into a multinational powerhouse.

Tokyo's glitzy downtown Ginza district not only had a long line in front of the Apple store, but another across the main intersection at Softbank, the first carrier in Japan to offer iPhones.

Hidetoshi Nakamura, a 25-year-old auto engineer, said he's an Apple fan because it's an innovator.

"I love Apple," he said, standing near the end of a two-block-long line, reading a book and listening to music on his iPod. "It's only the iPhone for me."


Information from News Channel 8 reporters Chip Osowski and Rod Carter and The Associated Press was used in this report.

Comments