- The Washington Times - Friday, June 29, 2007

Sixty-year-old Beatrix Zakhari was among the nearly 20 people eagerly waiting in line this afternoon at the downtown Bethesda Apple store for the 6 p.m. release of the company’s much-hyped IPhone.

The College Park woman was waiting for her son to get off work and take her place in line.

I’m here for my son, who will hopefully be here in an hour and a half, said Mrs. Zakhari, who had been in line since 9 a.m. Hopefully.

The IPhone also a music player, camera and wireless Web device will go on sale at 6 p.m. in U.S. Apple stores that closed at 2 p.m. to prepare for the premiere.

AT&T;, which as a five-year exclusive contract with the IPhone, will follow a similar closing procedure but will be open an additional hour tonight.

Mrs. Zakhari said her 20-year-old son has extensively researched the phone and will be using his birthday money to pay for some of the $499 to $599 price tag, but most of it is coming out of his own pocket.

The gadget, with a 3.5-inch touch-screen display, which Apple Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs has touted as “revolutionary,” has been the focus of much buzz.

Since the IPhone was announced in January, expectations that it will become yet another blockbuster product for Apple have pushed the company’s stock up more than 40 percent.

Apple has set a target of selling 10 million units worldwide by 2008, gaining roughly a 1 percent share of the cell-phone market.

Despite the handset’s price of $499 for a 4-gigabyte model and $599 for an 8-gigabyte version, on top of the calling plan, some bullish Wall Street analysts have predicted sales could go as high as 45 million units in two years.

Calling plans for the phone are based on a two-year service agreement and start at $59.99 for 450 minutes.

Although her son is the big Apple fan, Mrs. Zakhari said she is fascinated by the IPhone’s Internet capacity.

I could do without the music player, she said. And the phone.

Jacob Levine-Sisson, 20, from Bethesda, was waiting for someone, too his mother. He wanted the IPhone for his 21st birthday, and she was paying.

He had been waiting since 10:30 a.m.; his mother would be coming at 6 p.m.

A die-hard Apple fan, Mr. Levine-Sisson had his IPod sitting in the cup holder of his foldout chair. The bag next to him held his Powerbook G4 laptop computer, which he said would help pass the time.

I’m expecting it to be awesome, Mr. Levine-Sisson said. It combines everything I use on a daily basis all in one.

He said his current cell-phone contract, not with AT&T;, ended recently but that it wouldn’t have mattered he said he gladly would have paid a cancellation fee, which can be up to $175, to switch.

John Orlando, 17, from Bethesda, arrived at the store at 6 a.m., securing the second spot in line. He was covered in a yellow blanket, and his eyes drooped shut from time to time. The man waiting in front of him in the No. 1 spot was asleep in a folding chair.

I’ve been in the market for a new cell phone, and I figured I’d get the best there is, said John, who added that he loves Apple products for their easy and appealing user interface.

I’m spending my summer’s money.



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