BLOOMINGTON - Bloomington resident Jake Ellis, 15, is a great friend, standing in line nearly 20 hours Thursday and Friday just to accompany a buddy who bought one of the much-hyped iPhones. | Video
Well, Ellis' efforts weren't in total charity. He made $80 too, holding a space in line for someone who had to get to work.
After spending the night on a sidewalk to keep the top spot in line, Ellis and 17-year-old friend Martin Dennis got antsy in the final minutes of waiting.
"Ellis, keep stuff in the ground, seriously," Dennis shouted as Ellis pulled a weed from the sidewalk in front of the AT&T-Cingular Wireless retail store at the Brandtville Center, 1605 S. Morrissey Drive.
"You were a lot friendlier when you were asleep," Ellis joked in response.
The release drew people of all ages, and the two teenagers weren't the only ones getting anxious to shell out hundreds for the combination smart-phone/iPod, the latest brainchild of Apple Inc.
The line of more than 40 people cheered as the first customer walked out of the store with bag in hand.
The iPhone went on sale nationally at 6 p.m. Friday, with the entry-level version costing $500 and the cheapest calling plan coming in at $59.99 a month. The anticipation mirrored that of the craze surrounding the hottest toy during the holidays, and lines formed outside stores from New York to California.
When Dennis strutted out of the store and opened the box to reveal his prize, "oohs" and "aahs" poured from the line as though Independence Day fireworks erupted early. He flashed the gadget to those still waiting, feeding the suspense of a line that had already started to inch closer to the store's front doors.
"It's amazing," Dennis said of his new phone.
More friends had gathered at this point, each lobbying to be the first person Dennis would call from his new toy. Dennis hadn't made that decision yet.
Meanwhile, an unsuspecting AT&T customer approached the store to pay her bill. Not this day. The store - the only one in the Twin Cities to sell the iPhone Friday - would only accommodate iPhone customers Friday night.
After shouting a few expletives into her cell phone, the woman left.
Store stayed open late
Inside, AT&T employees scurried to keep the assembly line moving. Six customers went in, and as one came out another went in.
AT&T remained open three hours late, until 10 p.m., to accommodate the iPhone's release.
It's unknown if the phone sold out. The store wouldn't say how many iPhones it received, and the line was still growing after 6 p.m.
Store employees handed out water and allowed some people waiting in line to use the restroom inside.
Just before the doors opened, Dennis suddenly needed to use the restroom. That could wait.
He had worked and saved money for months to buy the phone. After Dennis got straight A's in school, his father, Mike Dennis, agreed to help pay.
He can relate to his son's desire.
"When I was a kid, I spent $240 to buy an HP calculator that could hold 40 commands. It was a programmable calculator in the 1970s, and it was a big deal. My parents let me do the same thing. I paid for it with my own money …
"But the only thing I ever stood in line for was one of the premieres of 'Star Wars,' and that was only a few hours," Mike Dennis recalled.
"(Martin's) pretty determined when he puts his mind to something."