July 14th, 2008
10:54 AM ET

I'm not obsessed by the iPhone 3G. I promise

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/14/art.iphoneline.jpg caption="People waiting in line at the Apple Store in Manhattan for their chance to buy the 2nd generation iPhones."]
Gabe Ramirez
CNN Photojournalist

I am not a crazy tech fanboi or anything. I wasn't doing any Apple store camping for the honor of being the first to sport a new iPhone last year. I don’t even own a first gen iPhone. (Although I do own an iPodTouch). But I have to be honest here, when Apple’s all in one device was released in 2007, only one thing kept me form cueing up street side behind the masses of geeks, breathing CO2 emissions and slurping down Red Bulls in jittery anticipation of owning the sweet, sweet iPhone - my desire to stay married.

My wife is a no-nonsense Scotch Irish Texan. The idea of her husband standing in line in the wee hours of the morning to spend six bills on a sleek, shiny iPhone would be too much for her to wrap her head around. As it is, coming across one of my old iPods collecting dust in some random spot in the house is enough to push her to the other side of crazy (she thinks of them as perfectly fine, I think of them as intolerably obsolete). I decided that for the sake of marital bliss I would keep my iPhone fantasies, well, fantasies.

But that was sooo 2007. It was with the secrecy of a Columbian hostage rescue team that I awoke Friday morning determined to bag this year’s new iPhone3G. I just couldn't wait until 2009 this time.

Friday July 11th

The big day. My plan? Drop my kids off at their respective summer day camps and sneak off to my neighborhood Apple store. But after dropping off my daughter at her camp, I was outflanked by my son. On the way to his camp he asks, “Dad? Since you have the day off, can I hang out with you instead?” Ouch. What I’m going to say? “No you can’t spend the day with your pops who spends a lot of time traveling for work, because he has to partake in the crazy ritual of standing in line for a super cool gadget that he will most likely toss in a recycle bin this time next year.”

I really do want to hang out with him so I let him ditch camp today. Now the question I grapple with, is it healthy to expose a seven year old to the gross consumer display that is Apples cult of personality?

We arrive at the Sherman Oaks Fashion Square mall around 9am. Almost immediately, it is obvious that we are already hours behind schedule. The line outside the Apple store is a quarter mile long. I actually anticipated long lines, so on the way to the mall; I did a little recon at two AT&T stores in the area. Those lines were shorter but the AT&T stores were already sold out. So the Apple store was going to be my only chance. As soon as we get in line, my son is already giving me “the look” he inherited from his mother. An aqua t-shirted Apple store employee is handing out electrolyte water to thirsty geeks up and down the line. I ask him about how long it will take. “All day, like at least six hours” he responds. Six hours? Mmm…that’s not too bad. I ask the boy what he thinks and he reacts with these words, “Dad, se-we-iously. Do you think standing in line six hou-wahs to buy a phone is we-asonable?” Grrrr. My seven-year-old son is making too much sense for my taste.

Saturday July 12thI have both kids today; my wife is at her monthly knitting club. Earlier in the morning, the voice in my head was telling me to forget it. There is no way my daughter is going to wait in any line. Her patience is tested just waiting for the channel to change from CNN to Nickelodeon in the morning. Besides, I promised I would take them to see WALL-E today. But hey, nothing wrong with swinging by the Apple store first! Back at the mall, my son gives me “the look” and shakes his head the second we turn the corner. I’m not sure, but I think the same people are still in line from the day before. My daughter, blissfully unaware, asks in her little voice, “Is this the way to WALL-E?” Today’s a wash. No iPhone, but I still figured out a way to give Steve Jobs money! WALL-E was another fantastic Pixar movie. It had some message about waste and mass consumerism or something… I forget.



Sunday, July 13th

I show up outside the Apple store in the afternoon. The line? Manageable, I decide. Alone and armed with my biography of Mao Zedong, I’m in for the long haul. The people around me are a mixed bag of gadget geeks; twenty-something hipsters and older parents waiting in line for their teenage kids (while said kids are at the food court, of course). I guess every generation knows how to make suckers out of their parents. While reading, I am interrupted by occasional cheering from the front of the line. It seems every time somebody gets inside, it’s a small victory for us all.

After three hours and some decent progress, a store manager comes out and announces to my part of the line that the store closes in an hour, at 6pm. “There is no reason to wait,” he says. “You won’t get in by closing.” Looks of stunned disbelief and frustration all around. Half a dozen people peel off. But, I decided it was nothing more than a loyalty test. Remember that scene in Fight Club when Brad Pitt and Ed Norton trade insults to recruits of “Project Mayhem,” leaving them standing outside their house? In one scene Norton refuses to let a recruit in because, he yells, “You’re too… pretty!” But the recruit stands fast and gets in. Loyalty, you see. Well that was me, Jared Leto! If I hang tough, they won’t keep me out!

But, as it turns out, they will. And they did…keep me out. I figure, it just wasn’t meant to be. I mean it’s only a dumb gadget, right.

Yeah, well…what time does the Apple store close today? I think I can make it, this time.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Technology
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Jolene

    Gabe: I admit I had the iPhone 3G fever myself but I also have the iTouch and I got to thinking, why would I want to get the phone? It seems to me that by the time you watch your podcasts, movies, listen to music, check your email, and surf the net, you wouldn't have any battery left to make any phone calls! Just a thought.....

    Thanks for sharing your experience, it put a smile on my face today!

    Jolene, St. Joseph, MI

    July 14, 2008 at 11:13 pm |
  2. Debbie, Louisiana

    I can't wait to get my iphone. I'll be getting it on Friday. Yea for me!!! I have always settled for the cheap or free phones while everyone else was paying for Razrs and Blackberries. The iphone puts them all to shame!!

    July 14, 2008 at 9:37 pm |
  3. Genevieve M, TX

    Gabe, your quest for the iphone has been sad. Hopefully, you will get past the roadblocks and get the phone you covet. 🙂

    July 14, 2008 at 8:21 pm |
  4. Sandra Dee

    Gabe- did you go back in time? Its July 11 that the phone came out (not June)

    July 14, 2008 at 3:50 pm |
  5. Stacy

    Hi Gabe. Seeing the word "fanboi" on a CNN blog gave me the amusement I needed to get moving this Monday morning.

    About you being Jared Leto, uh, didn't he get his face beat in near the end of that movie?

    Good luck with your mission.

    July 14, 2008 at 3:24 pm |
  6. Susan


    If at first you do not succeed try try again. You know that you want one.
    My sister is about everything Apple. She passed on the first ones to make sure that Apple had worked out all the bugs before she would take the plunge. She is now the proud owner of an I Phone. They are a lot less now. AT & T is now subsidizing the cost of the phone.

    I do not have one, but know people who do. They are really cool !!!

    Let us know how you like it.

    Good Luck !!!!


    July 14, 2008 at 2:39 pm |
  7. Barbara in Culver City, CA

    I have been bitten by the iPhone bug as well, so I can totally relate to your story. However, I decided to wait a year and the new model is even better, so it was a smart move. Also a smart move was my decision to avoid the crowds this year. I had no idea there would be a problem getting th 3G to actually work, so my decision to wait a few weeks was also a good one. I plan to get one in a couple of weeks and I'm really looking forward to it!

    Now do I really need the larger version, or should I save money and get the smaller one?

    July 14, 2008 at 2:01 pm |
  8. Renee

    Gabe: Invest in your family (so your kids will be smarter than you) and put the $600 in their college funds.

    July 14, 2008 at 1:00 pm |
  9. Taylor Hirth

    PS. I have the g1 version, and I don't plan on upgrading to the newer version. Apple plays relativly fair and hooked us g1 users up wtih updates that make our iPhones about the equivalent with the newer versions, minus a little bit of added speed, but, if you have one you know, the g1s are fast enough and I can still store all my music and movies fine, and I've only got the 4gb.

    July 14, 2008 at 12:35 pm |
  10. Taylor Hirth

    Best investent ever.
    I can respond to emails while in the bathtub (though I don't recommend this – water damage voids the warrenty)
    I can check cnn.com while driving (again, I don't recommend this – owner death probably voids warrenty as well)
    And I can make all my iphone-less friends really jealous.
    Not to mention the numerous actually productive and useful features that I could probably no longer function without, coupled with the extremely user-friendly construction, and amazing durability.

    There's a reason this thing is so popular that it flooded the servers the morning of the 11th....

    July 14, 2008 at 12:31 pm |
  11. Michelle

    I am not biting until Apple lets you choose
    your provider.

    July 14, 2008 at 11:37 am |
  12. Kristen- Philadelphia, PA

    Wow, poor Gabe. Hope it's worth all the hassle once you finally manage to get one. Please post again after you test it out. I think they seem cool and I was thinking about getting one when my current phone expirees in August.

    July 14, 2008 at 11:20 am |
  13. Annie Kate


    Look at it this way – if you wait long enough the price will go down. That way you won't get in as much hot water with your wife because you can tell her righteously that you waited for the price to come down saving untold amounts of money on the purchase.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    July 14, 2008 at 11:20 am |
  14. Michelle Fonthill Ont,Canada

    The I phone craze is unbleievable. What would any of us do without all of this upscale tech gizmos..It's hardly worth getting any new gaget because as soon as this sells out next year there will be another better version to buy.AC was right on when he said that on his show when the first generation i phone came out in stores!
    It's all a fad to keep big wig computer ceo's job security at our expense.

    Michelle D.
    (i phone free)!

    July 14, 2008 at 11:09 am |