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Apple-philes converge on suburban stores
By Anna Marie Kukec | Daily Herald Columnist

The fourth generation of Apple's iPhone goes on sale today with huge lines, people camped out and Apple expecting to sell a million of the devices today.

 

Tanit Jarusan | Staff Photographer

The fourth generation of Apple's iPhone goes on sale today with huge lines, people camped out and Apple expecting to sell a million of the devices today.

 

Tanit Jarusan | Staff Photographer

Kubie James, of Bolingbrook was the first in line at the Apple store in Naperville. " I got here about 9 a.m. Wednesday morning. I've been in line almost 24 hours. I'm very excited, and I get a new phone every year, so let me get this one as well."

 

Tanit Jarusan | Staff Photographer

Apple's iphone fans camped out in front of the Apple store in Naperville.

 

Tanit Jarusan | Staff Photographer

Rene Allen, left, and Kendra Liscano, both of Aurora, started campin out Wednesday evening for the fourth generation of Apple's iPhone.

 

Tanit Jarusan | Staff Photographer

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Published: 6/24/2010 10:40 AM | Updated: 6/25/2010 8:34 AM

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Despite high unemployment. Despite a tough economy. Despite high debt and foreclosures. The Apple-philes came out in force Thursday, forming lines for hours outside the Apple and AT&T stores around Chicago and the suburbs.

It was all for the iPhone 4, which costs between $199 and $699, depending on whether you sign a two-year contract or not, and an additional voice and data package.

"Apple has done a great job of creating Apple-philes," said Francis Sideco, a wireless analyst with iSupply Corp. "They appear to be a big and growing set of people that whatever Apple puts out, they'll buy it. Everyone has a friend or two like them. Apple has created this cult of folks who they can always depend on to buy their next product."

Hundreds of Apple and Mac fans usually gather early to be among the first to get the latest devices. The Apple stores in Deer Park, Oak Brook and elsewhere around the suburbs were no exception. Lines for pre-orders and walk-ins began forming Wednesday afternoon.

Still, others took a more comfortable route. One young consumer who had preordered from the Rolling Meadows AT&T store received a call that his iPod was available, so he drove over from his Mount Prospect home and . He picked up his device within minutes.

Then there's Roger Matthews of Arlington Heights, president of The Northwest of Us Mac User Group, who pre-ordered and had his iPhone 4 shipped to his home. He received it Wednesday, a day before the iFrenzy. He bought the 32-gigabyte version for $299 along with a two-year service contract. It was an upgrade from his 16-gigabyte 3G version, which likely will go to a family member.

"The iPhone has proved itself to be so amazing with features and capacity, that nothing else compares," Matthews said.

If you take your old iPhone and hold it side by side to the new one, not only will you see a significant speed increase but the quality and clarity of the new display is "fantastic," he said.

"The new screen clarity, sharpness and color contrast is much improved," Matthews said. "You particularly notice it in the contrast of blacks and the whites on the screen. This is the best image on a phone I've ever seen."

About 25 percent of his Mac group is expected to also buy the iPhone 4 and the group will offer classes on the more than 100 new features on the phone, he said.

But back at the lines, the AT&T stores in Oakbrook Terrace and elsewhere also had a steady stream of customers who preordered the device.

"The iPhone 4 pre-order sales on June 15 were 10 times higher than the first day of pre-ordering for the iPhone 3GS last year. Demand is simply unprecedented," said AT&T spokeswoman Amy Grundman.

An Apple spokesman did not return calls about sales and deliveries, but Grundman said at least AT&T is on track to fulfilling preorders first.

"We'll follow with iPhone 4 availability for all other customers starting next week - Tuesday, June 29 - when iPhone 4 goes on sale across all AT&T sales channels," she said.

AT&T plans to have iPhone 4 inventory on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last at its retail locations, at www.att.com, and in other business sales channels. As inventory sells out, AT&T will offer the option of purchasing iPhone 4 and having

it delivered to a home or business or an AT&T store. Customers then will receive an e-mail once their order is placed, and again when it ships, Grundman said.

AT&T also has been posting a series of videos at www.facebook.com/att. The videos offer information, tips and instructions around order fulfillment, iPhone 4 activation, inventory and the new MicroSIM unique to iPhone 4 devices, Grundman said.

•Follow Anna Marie Kukec on Facebook and LinkedIn and as AMKukec on Twitter.