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New iPhone 4 draws hundreds to line outside Apple Store at International Plaza

A line wraps around International Plaza in Tampa as people wait Thursday for the chance to buy Apple’s new release, iPhone 4.

SKIP O’ROURKE | Times

A line wraps around International Plaza in Tampa as people wait Thursday for the chance to buy Apple’s new release, iPhone 4.

TAMPA — Cheers erupted as Andrew Polanowski walked out of the store.

The excitement was not so much aimed at him but at the shiny new object in his hands.

After waiting in line for more than seven hours, Polanowski of Clearwater finally had Apple's new iPhone 4.

"It's like a piece of art," the 23-year-old said as he played with the video feature on his new phone. "You don't get that plastic feeling like the old model. This one feels very solid."

Hundreds of people waited hours outside International Plaza in Tampa, and at Apple stores around the world, for a chance to be among the first to get the phone Thursday.

Some stores around the country sold out of the phone just hours after it went on sale — raising tensions as the stock ran low and sending would-be buyers home disappointed to try again.

But customers who didn't get a new phone Thursday will have to wait, at least a little. Some stores are expecting supplies to be replenished by Saturday. But Apple's website was telling customers Thursday afternoon new orders won't ship until July 14.

Only those who reserved a phone in advance were guaranteed to get one Thursday. Others were given vouchers promising they would get a phone if they stayed in line at an Apple store.

When doors opened at 7 a.m. at the International Plaza store, more than 400 people already were in line, many of whom had camped out overnight.

Donald Lynd, 27, of St. Petersburg joined the line at 10 p.m. Wednesday. He had no phone 10 hours later, but he did get a voucher. "It's like gold," he said.

Lynd said he and his friends had fun in the overnight line. They played games, tossed a football — until security told them to stop — and had pizza delivered.

Though most people had similar experiences, some were not as happy. "I didn't think it would be so chaotic," said Paul Bernicchi of Clearwater, who showed up after 7 a.m.

Bernicchi said he registered for the phone online last week and thought he would be in a separate, faster-moving line.

Despite the looming wait ahead of him, Bernicchi, 34, figured he would stick it out.

"You want to have something to show for the time you spent in line," he said.

The last person to get a voucher at the store, about 12:30 p.m., got his phone about 7:15 p.m.

As people streamed out of the store with their new phones in hand, those standing in line tried to get a peek at the proof their time had not been wasted.

Jim Bishop, 23, of Tampa walked out of the store with two iPhones almost 17 hours after he joined the line.

Was it worth it? "Absolutely," he said.

Joshua Bramer, 30, agreed.

"I think it's amazing," Bramer said after he looked over his new phone.

Bramer and his friend Nick Gates, both of St. Petersburg, were headed to work but said their phones might keep them a bit preoccupied.

"Productivity will be pretty low today," Gates said.

Times staff writer Robbyn Mitchell and the Associated Press contributed to this report. Shelley Rossetter can be reached at (813) 226-3374 or srossetter@sptimes.com.

New iPhone 4 draws hundreds to line outside Apple Store at International Plaza 06/24/10 [Last modified: Thursday, June 24, 2010 9:54pm]
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