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iPhone Hype Hits N.Y.

Paris Hilton can create hype out of nothing. Britney Spears as well. But if these two ever wish to take it up a notch they should take Apple’s Media Savvy 101 class.

With the launch of the iPhone, at the time still more than 48 hours away, a very small gaggle of customers created a medium-sized media circus at Apple’s flagship store in midtown Manhattan yesterday afternoon.

The beauty behind Apple’s genius is it didn’t even have to convince hundreds of people to camp out to await the delivery of their product like Sony and Microsoft do for their game systems to attract attention. No fewer then three TV camera crews, several print reporters (myself included) and one radio reporter were on hand to interview the seven souls lined up on the sidewalk outside the store at 1:30 p.m. on June 27.

The group was an interesting lot with the person at the head of the line being a local media hog, along with a young woman in fourth place – who was holding a spot for her boyfriend – who called waiting on the line an adventure. The last two were young guys, one of whom said he was there early because he “really wants this phone.”

I suppose one would have to get more out of this experience than merely a new cellphone. After all, our adventurous young lady had arrived on line Tuesday evening. She could have slept in one more night and only lost three spots in the line.

Did I mention these folks were enduring 93-degree heat along with New York’s wonderful 80 percent humidity? I wonder what happened later Wednesday night when several massive thunderstorms struck Manhattan.

The short line even managed to attract others interested in marketing their product. One person handed out small fans (that featured a company URL) to those on line to help keep cool and another posted a sign in back of number three promoting iPod audio tours of New York.

Possibly the most unusual contrast was between the line and what was going on inside the store. Apple didn’t even bother with over-the-top signage or much of anything.

The only indication that something was imminent was found on the black t-shirts worn by the Apple staffers. Each had a small emblem saying July 29 and that was it. The store did not have an area prepared for the iPhone, but a sales associate said this would be rectified on the big day when the store would close at 2 p.m. to be readied for the launch, which will take place at 6 p.m.

When asked if enough iPhones would be available on Friday to satiate the crowd outside, the sales associate coyly said, “Yes, there would be more then seven in the store.”