North Bay Apple Acolytes Line Up for iPhone 5

More than 100 people camped out Thursday night at the Apple Store in Corte Madera, while hundreds more showed in the wee hours of Friday morning outside mobile phone stores to get their hands on the prized new gadgets.

Bundled with blankets and dogs and trying to get some sleep, more than 100 people lined up outside the Apple Store at The Village in Corte Madera to be among the first to own the new iPhone 5.

The arrival of the latest version of the iPhone has become a regular celebration for Apple loyalists. Apple Store staff showed their appreciation by handing out coffee, doughnuts and water to the eager shoppers.

When the doors opened at 8 a.m. sharp, they were welcomed into the store by a cast of clapping, smiling employees and each customer was assigned to an assistant.

"Our staff gets more excited than anyone at these openings," said Apple Store manager Jeanine, who didn't want to give her last name. "We love this!"

Heather Burns of San Francisco brought her two dogs and an air mattress when she set up camp outside the Apple Store at 9:30 p.m. Thursday - and she wasn't even the first in line.

"The pre-orders won't be shipped until about November. I couldn't wait that long," said Burns, who came to Corte Madera because she "didn't want to spend the night on the streets of San Francisco."

The iPhone 5 also went on sale at AT&T, Verizon and Sprint stores locally.

What do you think of your new iPhone?

In Novato, about a dozen people waited outside the AT&T store at Vintage Oaks Shopping Center. An employee came out five minutes before the 8 a.m. opening to announce that the store only had six iPhone5s. Those were snatched up quickly when the doors were unlocked, and several others mingled with salespeople to give the phone a tryout.

There were only four people waiting for the scheduled 8 a.m. opening at the nearby Sprint store at Vintage Oaks. One person had been told the store had 20 phones to sell, but an employee later said he was not authorized to release that information. The store didn't open until 8:24 a.m. because a water leak at a salon located directly above the store caused some electrical problems inside the Sprint store.

Most eager buyers around Marin lined up around 6 a.m. Friday to find the line already growing. Some were first-timers to the kind of frenzy an Apple product release can create but simply had to get iPhone 5 right away.

The iPhone 5 sold out in its pre-release, then Apple announced it would delay shipping the new model. Around the world, people camped out for more than a week to get the new phone, unwilling to wait another few weeks.

What's causing the sensation? The iPhone 5 is slimmer, lighter, has a bigger screen and has a faster processor than the iPhone 4S. Burns was planning to shell out more than $400 for a 64GB model of the iPhone 5 and then sell her old iPhone 4 for "nearly as much" as she originally paid for it.

"I use my iPhone for just about everything," Burns said. "I have about 50 gigs of music on my old one. I watch TV on it, I do just about everything on it."

Apple is expecting to ship more than 10 million of the iPhones by the end of September.

"We love our customers. This is just so exciting," Jeanine said. "The new iPhone is a great product."

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