AT&T stores in Valley gear up for iPhone

Large crowds and long wait times are expected for the launch Friday.



Santa won’t be there, but managers of AT&T stores say they are expecting Christmastime-like crowds Friday.

The near six-month wait for the iPhone ends 6 p.m. Friday for people waiting to buy the latest device from Apple. And AT&T stores are preparing.

All AT&T stores, formerly known as Cingular, will be temporarily closed at 4:30 p.m. Friday to prepare for the rush of people looking to buy the $499 to $599 phone.

AT&T is warning customers interested in other phones to visit before the iPhone’s launch to avoid the rush. It also is cautioning customers that wait times in stores and on the phone may be longer on Friday and throughout the weekend due to demand. For cell phone assistance, it suggests visiting the company’s Web site.

AT&T spokesman Bob Beasley said he expects large crowds for the phone, but stores should have enough phones for everyone to buy one over time.

The phone

“As far as devices go, we will have enough for anyone that wants one over time,” he said, “If we don’t have it in, the customer has the option of direct fulfillment where they pay for the device and we ship it to the customer.”

Beasley also said stocks for the phone will be replenished weekly.

The iPhone was created by Apple and features a camera, a multimedia player including iTunes, photo album, Internet that allows the user to e-mail and surf the Web, and video voicemail — all through a touch screen and virtual keyboard.

Beasley referred to the iPhone as a “game-changing device.”

“We believe this is going to revolutionize the cell phone,” he said, “Not only is it the best wireless phone, it’s also the best iPod and the best Web browser available. This clearly represents the future.”

Plans for the phone range from $59.99 per month for 450 minutes to $99.99 for 1,350 minutes. Data functions such as unlimited Internet and e-mail are included in the price as well as 200 text messages.

Waiting in line

The phone will be sold only at AT&T and Apple stores.

In New York, some people have been camped outside Apple Inc.’s Fifth Avenue store since Monday awaiting the phone’s arrival.

David Clayman, 21, on vacation in New York from Chicago, happened to walk by and decided to change his travel plans this week to get in line for the device.

He hopes to buy three phones: One to raise money for charity; one as an early birthday gift for his dad, who turns 50 on Saturday; and a third for himself. Inc. already is taking pre-orders for books related to the iPhone, while the online classified site Craigslist had listings from people willing to wait in line for cash or looking for someone to do so.

XCONTRIBUTOR: The Associated Press

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