June 27, 2007 - 10:42AM
To claim his 15 minutes of fame, Greg Packer started queueing to be among the first paying customers in the world to own an Apple iPhone a full 101 hours before the much-hyped mobile phone goes on sale on Friday evening.
Packer, a retired highway maintenance worker, began his long vigil outside Apple's flagship retail store in New York on Monday morning at 5am.
When smh.com.au contacted him on his soon-to-be-discarded mobile phone this morning, Australian time, Packer said he had since been joined by about half a dozen other iPhone fans and opportunists.
The group is camped on the pavement near the distinctive glass box entrance to the 5th Avenue Apple Store, enduring daytime temperatures in the 30s.
"We just had a big scare," Packer said over a crackly line. "Some cops came and wanted to move us on."
Luckily for the group, the policemen changed their minds after contacting their sergeant and Packer was left to spend what will be his second night on the streets of Manhattan.
Packer, who says he's an Apple fan despite not owning an iPod or a Mac, says he intends to hang on to the phone rather than try selling it for a profit.
The 43-year-old from Huntington in New York state, says he is relying on food donations and the bathroom facilities at the Apple Store, which is open 24-hours a day.
However, he said Apple would not allow him to charge his phone battery and after a day of taking calls from all corners of the country and the world, it was running out of juice.
Packer - who is also blogging about his experience - is no novice, having lined up to be among the first to own a PlayStation 3 game console when they went on sale last November.
His prize this time will be one of two iPhone models. The one with a 4GB memory will retail for $US499 and the one with the 8GB memory will sell for $US599.
But buyers will also have to sign up to a two-year contract mobile phone company AT&T and face a charge of $US175 if they break it.
Overnight, AT&T announced that monthly charges would range in price from from $US60 for the most basic plan to just under $US100, making the total cost of a two year commitment to the iPhone at between $US1900 and $US3000.
The iPhone will be "locked" onto the AT&T network meaning it won't work on other networks without modification.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that such is the demand for the new phone that even requests from A-list Hollywood stars were being turned down.
AT&T is hiring an additional 2000 employees to cope with the expected rush on the phones as well as additional security staff.
Standing third in line outside at the same new York venue is 21-year-old David Clayman from Chicago.
Clayman has just-graduated from university and starts his starts a new job in Chicago on Monday. He wants to buy two iPhones. The first one he's offering to sell for $US5000 and donate the proceed to his favourite chairty.
The second one he intends to give as a gift to his father as a birthday present.
"In my opinion, he's the best father a man like me could possibly have," Clayman wrote on his blog. "He has worked 40 years day and night to care for his family ... and an iPhone would be a well-deserved gift for a life of labour in service to his family."