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T-Minus 6 Hours To iPhone Launch…

I took a trip up to the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue between 58th  and 59th Streets in Manhattan around noon today and those seven stalwarts who have been outside the store for the past few days have been joined by plenty more.

But the line at this Apple Store, and another one downtown, weren’t the only places where consumers were enduring the heat and humidity of a late June day in New York to buy an iPhone. I noticed around a dozen or so people sitting in folding chairs on the corner of 51st Street and Park Avenue when I made my way over to the Apple Store. I looked up and it was the AT&T store on the corner. There was one sign inside the store about what was to come at 6 p.m. That was around 11:30 a.m. today.

Take a look at a couple of pictures below:

Meanwhile, back at the Apple Store, the line now stretched from the front of the store on Fifth Avenue, past FAO Schwarz on 58th Street down to Madison Avenue and around the block to the corner of 59th Street. The way things are going, the line will probably circumnavigate the block well before 6 p.m.

Electronic media, newspaper reporters and bloggers were all over the iPhone fans online, some of them being interviewed, others noticing when people like me were taking casual shots of the scene.

Here are some shots of the line and the media in attendance.

  Someone who I thought I’d see there is a regular contributor to TWICE — Stewart Wolpin — who is blogging about the scene from the line … or at least I thought so. Click here for his entertaining post on the scene in New York.

Of course with all the hype surrounding this introduction, the backlash has set in even though no one has bought an iPhone yet. Responding to a few criticisms, Apple and AT&T must have gotten sensitive. Apple guru Steve Jobs and AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson jumped on that with a media blitz to defend their iPhone decisions. Click here for an interesting take on their defense of the iPhone from Business 2.0.

In seeing Wolpin and a few of my colleagues at last night’s Toshiba press event that was dominated by HD DVD talk, iPhone came up and we discussed if this was the biggest product introduction/hype in CE during the past 20 years. Wolpin said that aside from PlayStation, Xbox and Wii, in terms of hype, iPhone is it.

I mentioned that I seemed to recall “midnight madness” for Microsoft’s Windows 95 with all the lines and the hype of this week. Wolpin cracked, “Those Microsoft fans were desperate for a substitute for DOS.”