The Great iDay iHype iFraud

IPhone Futures Prove to Be a Bad Investment

SAN FRANCISCO, July 5 — David Flashner thought he had it wired: buy two iPhones last Friday when they first went on sale, keep one and sell the other at a profit so big it would pay for most of the first one.

David Flashner bought two iPhones last Friday planning to keep one and sell one, but no one wanted to buy, so he returned the extra one.

Mr. Flashner wasted no time. He began advertising the extra phone while still in line at an Apple store in Burlingame, Calif., south of San Francisco. During his 21-hour wait, he posted half a dozen different ads to Craigslist — with prices ranging from $800 to $1,200 — and waited for the calls to come in.

But no calls came because consumers expect that stores will soon have phones in stock. He continued to advertise the extra phone through the weekend, and ended up with just one call, which went nowhere. On Wednesday, he returned the phone.

Mr. Flashner, 25, who manages an audio-visual equipment rental company, is not the only would-be iPhone reseller whose plan failed to follow the script. “I haven’t heard of a single person who sold one,” he said.

I’m not surprised.

What would surprise me is if someone said they had actually been paid to stand on line. In Manhattan, the first person on line at an AT&T Store had a sign asking $2,000(!) or Best Offer for the spot. At this same store, not far from the front, someone was asking $250 or Best Offer. At another AT&T Store, someone not far from the front was asking $150. (I have pictures of this which will run later; if you’re new here, I’ve used up my free WordPress image storage and will soon be making arrangements to pay for more — the photos will run then. Check back within a week or two.)

At the Apple Store Soho, they ripped through 1,000 people on line in just an hour. I spent a grand total of five minutes on line to fondle an iPhone.

I’m guilty of feeding the hype myself, by issuing a caution. I should have known better! The lines I saw were all well-behaved and the people were all having fun on them. I didn’t see any shady characters casing them. And none of the people I saw on line looked like the kind of people I saw lining up for the Wii at the Times Square Toys R Us (which also had a well-behaved, although very festive!, line).

I think all the talk of long lines actually scared people off. I think in the weeks to come, Apple will sell more iPhones than it did during its introductory weekend. Well, as soon as supplies are restocked!

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