What recession? Right now, there are several hundred people in line at the Seattle Apple Store in University Village, waiting to buy and activate a 3G iPhone, which starts at $199 and requires a two-year commitment to a voice-and-data plan that costs at least $70 per month. The line was just long as last year's, despite the tougher economic climate and the fact that we've had more than a year to get used to the iPhone--seeing one in public isn't much of a surprise anymore.
But apparently the promise of a faster data connection, GPS transceiver, third-party applications, and--probably most important--a lower retail price convinced a lot of folks that the 3G iPhone is worth lining up for. The people at the front of the line had camped out overnight, and when I asked the last person in line how long he'd been waiting, he replied, "Three hours, and it'll probably be another three before I get in." That's because Apple is activating the new iPhones on site in the store. According to a staffer there, the process took about 30 minutes when they opened this morning, but now is down to about 10, which is their goal.
I saw several people brandishing their first-generation iPhones in the line. A couple of them told me they intend to sell their old phones on eBay--or perhaps to the young man waiting at the front of the line with a "will buy old iPhone" sign.