June 12, 2007 12:57 PM PDT

The great iPhone hunt of 2007

Apple CEO Steve Jobs recently gave free advice to a columnist asking how to get an iPhone when they go on sale: head to an AT&T store, Jobs suggested, rather than Apple's own retail outlets.

A CNET News.com survey of 75 Apple and AT&T stores indicates that may be a wise approach.

Not one Apple store contacted offered would-be iPhone buyers the chance to get on a waiting list, but some AT&T stores and retailers did. The catch: not all stores that sell AT&T phones expect to be selling the iPhone on June 29, and some that will expressed concern about receiving sufficient quantities of the highly anticipated device.

An AT&T-owned store in Times Square in midtown Manhattan, for instance, said that about 100 people had been placed on a waiting list. When asked whether being on that list guarantees priority for buying an iPhone, a store employee replied, "It depends how accessible you make yourself. I'm going to call you. If you're here, you'll get it."

One open question is whether AT&T/Cingular franchises and resellers will ever be selling the iPhone. (Because exclusive Cingular agents have signs and decor that looked just like company-owned stores, it hasn't been easy to tell them apart. But as of a few weeks ago, locally owned stores are now called AT&T authorized retailers and are labeled as such in the company's online directory.)

Tips for landing an iPhone


• Log on to Apple's Web-based store on June 29. The phone is set to go on sale at 6 p.m. that day, Jobs announced. Sign up for updates here. But forget trying AT&T's e-commerce site; the company says it won't be selling iPhones online, at least initially.

• Call a few local AT&T stores and see if you can get on their waiting lists or if your local sales representative has any tips about how that particular store is handling requests. Most will tell you it's all first-come, first-served, but practices appear to vary widely.

• Show up early at an Apple store or company-owned AT&T store before they open on June 29. Most stores say they will be keeping normal hours that day, although midnight parties at Apple stores don't appear to be completely ruled out. The big question is how many phones each store will stock.

• Wait until the June 29 mania dies down and hope that AT&T and Apple decide to allow locally owned AT&T franchises and resellers to carry the product as well. More locations should mean more units--and shorter lines.

AT&T spokesman John Kampfe initially denied on Tuesday that any franchises or resellers would receive iPhones. "The iPhone will be available in all AT&T-owned retail stores nationwide, which number about 1,800. Again it will be sold only in AT&T-owned retail stores, Apple retail stores and through Apple's online store," Kampfe said in an e-mail interview.

But in the News.com survey, some franchises have said the opposite: that they expect to supply customers with iPhones starting June 29. Others, however, have said they're not getting the product at all; some say they're unsure whether they'll stock them; and some said that if they did, the phones would likely not arrive until at least July.

A Manhattan AT&T franchise on Third Avenue said on Tuesday that it's also expecting the phone on June 29 but did not have a waiting list. In Miami, an employee at an AT&T franchise on Dixie Highway said she had 16 people on a waiting list for the 15 phones expected in the first shipment and would continue taking names for the next batch of 15 phones. Those are expected to arrive two weeks later.

In a follow-up conversation, AT&T's Kampfe indicated that franchises might be able to start selling phones after June 29. "We haven't disclosed what we're doing beyond the 29th," he said. "That's not to say we are going to make them available, but as of the 29th, it is only going to be in AT&T-owned stores, Apple stores, and Apple online."

Some other tidbits that surfaced in the survey:

• When asked whether it was possible to get on a waiting list or preorder the iPhone, many AT&T store representatives cited an internal company memorandum barring both practices. But AT&T's Kampfe said he could not confirm or comment on the existence of such a policy. "Our policy is that it is going to be sold on the day--no advance sales or anything of that nature," he told CNET News.com in a phone interview.

• In San Francisco, an AT&T franchise store on Chestnut Street said it had assembled a waiting list of sorts, but "maxed out" about two weeks ago and would no longer be adding names to the list. That store said it expected to receive about 30 iPhones, but most likely not until at least a few days after the projected launch date. Five more stores in San Francisco, most of them AT&T-owned, said they weren't taking preorders or starting waiting lists, as did the downtown Apple store. Another franchise on Kearny Street said it wasn't stocking the phone at all.

• Two stores in the Los Angeles area, which appeared from their directory listing to be AT&T-owned, said they were taking down names for an informal waiting list, but they couldn't guarantee that those on the list would actually get their hands on the first crop of phones. (Three other area stores, however, declined such requests at all.)

• Very few employees at AT&T or Apple stores had the faintest idea how many phones their stores will stock, with many of them blaming that lack of information on secrecy from the corporate powers at Apple.

• But some were more optimistic than others about the quantities. A Miami Beach Apple store employee enthusiastically predicted that there would be "enough" for everyone who wanted one, while an Apple store employee in Cambridge, Mass., said she'd heard "good numbers" of iPhones would be available at her location. A Salt Lake City Apple store employee, for his part, couldn't be more specific than "a bunch." Estimates by some AT&T store employees were more conservative, however. Employees at company-owned stores in downtown San Francisco and Tampa, Fla., admitted they were expecting only a "limited" number, at least at first.

• The cube-shaped Apple store on New York's Fifth Avenue may be open for business 24 hours a day, but a representative who answered the phone chuckled (knowingly?) when asked whether that location would begin selling the phones at midnight on June 29. Apple hasn't told the store anything about that, she said.

• At Apple's Salt Lake City outpost, an employee said he had heard buzz about a midnight launch party, but knew only one thing for certain: come June 29, there was sure to be a line going out the door. Almost every customer that walks into the store asks about the iPhone, he said.

• An Omaha, Neb., Apple store employee said he fully expected to see people camping outside before the launch, while a Portland, Ore. employee actually advised doing so: "I recommend pitching a tent," he said, perhaps only half kidding.

CNET News.com's Declan McCullagh contributed to this report.

See more CNET content tagged:
AT&T Corp., reseller, Steve Jobs, Apple Computer, retailer

32 comments

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Better tips
This article has some better tips for getting an iPhone early:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.iphoneatlas.com/2007/06/11/tips-for-getting-an-" target="_newWindow">http://www.iphoneatlas.com/2007/06/11/tips-for-getting-an-</a>
iphone-at-launch/
Posted by jdpassman (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
So how do I know?
Seriously, I've checked six ways from Sunday. On AT&#38;T's Web site,
it says you can use a Google Earth layer to view AT&#38;T-owned retail
stores, but they all pop up as Cingular. Ditto with the company
directory! Is my local store (which comes up as "Cingular Wireless"
on the dir. and Google Earth, and the guy's business card says
"AT&#38;T Mobility") a COR? Will it have iPhones or not? Any help?
Posted by BdeRWest (28 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Check for service
If the store you are going to doesn't allow you to do handset exchanges or doesn't take payments for your wireless account at the store itself, then you are dealing with a franchise location only.

Real company owned and operated stores can offer handset exchanges or take payments for your wireless account.
Posted by Vegaman_Dan (6683 comments )
Link Flag
You should check the WWDC Keynote for accuracy..
Jobs specifically said when the iPhone would be going on sale at all
locations: 6 PM Local time.
(If you do watch the keynote and it's just to see this, it's all the way
at the end when it's time for "One Last Thing...")
Posted by ResinNation (22 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Ah, but you're assuming
Ah, but you're assuming that all AT&#38;T stores will follow suit. Some have specifically said otherwise in terms of availability.
Posted by declan00 (848 comments )
Link Flag
Check again: he doesn't specify
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://events.apple.com.edgesuite.net/d7625zs/event/" target="_newWindow">http://events.apple.com.edgesuite.net/d7625zs/event/</a>

Fast forward to about 1:13:30, that's where Jobs starts talking about the iPhone. The exact quote is "I believe it's 6pm in the evening that it will go on sale." Apple PR folks have yet to clarify what exactly he meant by that. Did you see a reference to "local time" somewhere else?
Posted by Tom Krazit (436 comments )
Link Flag
Oh, and One More Thing...
The reference of Jobs saying to go to an AT&#38;T Store over an Apple
Store was actually a misquote by the Huffington Post when it
originally was published. They later corrected this, re-quoting him
as saying "...an AT&#38;T Store OR [added emphasis] an Apple Store."
HINT HINT
Posted by ResinNation (22 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Friday night chaos, and weary customers.
Friday night chaos, and weary customers.

I?m rethinking whether it?s worth being made
an equivalent of a barnyard animal or not.

A 6 PM release of a product seems awfully
risky of making for complete confusion
in an already busy retail environment by
that time of the day. And a busy Friday night
at that!

I?ve not made up my yet, but Apple may
have lost a thousand dollar sale from me.

I?m willing to be in-line at an early hour
when a business first opens for the day,
but in line meshing with other people
whom may, or may not be there for the same reason?

I guess they have their strategy.
I may recreate mine as well.

Simply not make an iPhone purchase.

John
Posted by D_Arsonval (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Wow! Are you prone to tantrums, much?
So if you can't get one at launch because you'd rather be in the
morning rush than a Friday evening rush, then you won't get one
at all?

Line-ups or not, I think most people will wait a few days before
buying one, so I don't see your logic leading to no purchase if
you can't avoid the first night's crowds.

You either want one badly enough to brave that mob, or you can
wait for the next opportunity, but if you won't buy one if you
can't get it handed to you in what almost amounts to a private
ceremony, then you either don't really want one, or you're just
being very childish.
Posted by VidPro (60 comments )
Link Flag
get a life...
its a phone..and yes it might make you look cool for a few weeks, but it's just a phone, i have to say again. It not going to make you smarter, more caring, etc. etc. etc.

again get a life it's only a phone...and stop covering it is so relentelessly, please CNet. What about HTC, and for example this sucker: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/only-one-pound/everun-umpc-is-super-light-super-mobile-and-looks-like-it-might-not-suck-264916.php" target="_newWindow">http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/only-one-pound/everun-umpc-is-super-light-super-mobile-and-looks-like-it-might-not-suck-264916.php</a>
Posted by dondarko (261 comments )
Reply Link Flag
what?
Get a life? it's there job to cover these products thoroughly and look cool for weeks? did you ever think people with corporate jobs might actually want to use this phone other than looking cool(and how the hell can you even look cool with a phone?) o yeah and that link you posted for that phone.......well i'll say this as soon as it's released it'll be obsolete
Posted by GhottaBe (1 comment )
Link Flag
Not just a phone
You're missing the point entirely, it's not just a phone, it's made by Apple - that makes it special. :)

That's like saying a Prada bag is just a bag - every female I know would disagree with you!

And in a similar vein if you can't wait until June 29th then check out the Prada phone by LG, it's available now and bears more than a few similarities to the iPhone!

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.mobiles.co.uk/lg-prada.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.mobiles.co.uk/lg-prada.html</a>
Posted by DJohnsonII (3 comments )
Link Flag
Safari vulnerability on Windows
After all the hypes, we'll see if this is true to the iPhone as well.
Posted by iRhapsody (46 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Safari vulnerability on Windows
Everything and everybody is vulnerable on Windows. People using
Windows are more restricted than a wheelchair bound person in a
building with only staircases!
Posted by nbvail (42 comments )
Link Flag
The great iPhone media support of 2007
A complete guide on how to buy an Apple iPhone. What's next? A big headline in the home page saying "BUY AN IPHONE TODAY"?
Posted by Fil0403 (1303 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The Media = Steve Jobs Neutered Poodles
With its nonstop iPhone hype, the media is doing a good job of acting like employees of Apple's marketing department.
Posted by john55440 (1020 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Ooo... July?
"...the phones would likely not arrive until at least July."

WOW! That could meen waiting... oh, 2 days.
Posted by mwhitted (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I dont get the press coverage?
Its a Cell phone......and overprices cell phone that has less features than other phones.

This phone sold by AT&#38;T goes for $399....and has way more features.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.wireless.att.com/businesscenter/8525/index.jsp" target="_newWindow">http://www.wireless.att.com/businesscenter/8525/index.jsp</a>

3G...push to talk, support for wireless syncing of Exchange email.....plug it into your notebook and ti becomes a wireless broadband modem. It has hundreds of applications you can run.

Both are cell phones. Cell phones last a max of two years for most people...probably less before they move onto something new.

It is like CNet cant run enough stories about a CELL Phone. Is Apple paying you for this press coverage?
Posted by Lindy01 (443 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Yeah...
I am quite tired of hearing about the iPhone. My local AT&#38;T MIGHT
get about 2 of them on the 29th.
Posted by gsmiller88 (624 comments )
Link Flag
well, it can't...
... make me any LESS caring. or you less smart, it seems.

everyone wins!
Posted by muskratboy (349 comments )
Reply Link Flag
wow.....
Am I know im not the only one who could care less about this smart phone, its amazing how people can be controlled by a brand name including Cnet
Posted by j0ebro (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Ugh it makes me sick....
Why do people go crazy over things like the Iphone? It's a phone! Get over it. I hope that the phone has major bugs and falls flat on its face lol with all the hype I doubt it can live up to the dizzying expectations.
Posted by dirty55409 (202 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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