iPhone 3G, the Unexpurgated Arrival-Day FAQ

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Will There Be a Line?

Does Steve Jobs like black turtlenecks? Although lines have already formed in some places and there will undoubtedly be crowds at some stores, especially larger stores in major metro areas, the buzz, noisy though it has been, is nothing like last year.

How's that for a non-answer?

We asked Michael Gartenberg, an analyst with JupiterResearch, this very question, and his answer beat ours by a mile. "I think we'll see lines, particularly at the larger Apple stores, like the one [in New York City] on 5th Avenue. Will the line go around the block five times, like last year? No. It'll only go around the block twice."

Another analyst, Ezra Gottheil of Technology Business Research Inc., was a bit more cynical. "Sure there will be lines, but that has nothing to do with the product," said Gottheil. "Some people just seem to like to stand in line with other people who stand in line."

How Long Will It Take to Get an iPhone?

Apple says no more than 15 minutes in its stores, while AT&T has pegged the time at 12-15 minutes in its outlets, not counting the time spent standing in line.

We'll see if that plays out. Anyone who has shopped for a mobile phone, even during slow hours, knows that the wait can drag on longer than that, what with all the paper to shuffle, phone to test and the like. Some, like JupiterResearch's Gartenberg, are optimistic that the 15-min. range will be on the mark. "Apple and AT&T have clearly had time to think about this," he said, referring to the in-store activation requirement, and will have staff in place -- hopefully, trained staff -- to speed up the process.

Apple's retail chief, Ron Johnson, told Bloomberg yesterday that the company's stores will handle about 30 customers at a time. No word from AT&T on its crowd-management plans.

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