Failed logic: So, why am I waiting in line for an iPhone 5S?

Say what? As wait-time for iPhone 5S grows, buyers' nerves -- and reasoning -- fray.

Want the iPhone 5S? Get in line, brother.
Want the iPhone 5S? Get in line, brother. Brooke Crothers

LOS ANGELES -- Call it impatience, call it going from the peak of inflated expectations to the trough of disillusionment in 60 minutes.

I spent Friday morning waiting in line for the iPhone 5S Friday at a Verizon store. During much of the time, I listened to patrons who seemed to be constantly questioning why they were there.

The man who stood behind me gave a half dozen reasons why he hated his Samsung Galaxy (I think it was an S4) and the kludgy Samsung interface.

So far, so good. Then as the wait time became 30 minutes, then 45 minutes, then an hour, his reasoning took an abrupt U-turn.

"Hey, the 5S really isn't that different than the 5," he said loud enough for everyone to hear, though I think he was addressing the comment to me.

Five minutes later, I turned around and he was gone.

(Indeed, Verizon was unbelievably slow at moving things along for a short line -- maybe 20 people. The person at the head of the line could have eaten a three-course breakfast on the spot, with plenty of time to spare).

A woman in front of me with a 4S seemed to grow increasingly disillusioned with the prospect of the 5S as the line refused to budge. Finally, she blurted out to her friend (to paraphrase): "This sucks, but I hear that if you don't get one today they won't be available again until October 26." I tried to disabuse her of that notion, but I don't know how successful I was.

There was a small line for the 5S/5C at my local Verizon store in Los Angeles.  But the wait time was hours.
There was a small line for the 5S/5C at my local Verizon store in Los Angeles. But the wait time was hours. Brooke Crothers

Another customer had gold fever when he first got in line. But as soon as a Verizon rep came out and announced that there were no gold iPhones and, in fact, they hadn't received any, he bolted in a huff.

And it wasn't just customers. When I finally made it inside, my rep -- who made a hard-sell for accessories that I rebuffed -- muttered that he didn't really know what all the fuss was about (a variation on the iPhone-5-and-5S-aren't-really-that-different theme).

(Note: Verizon, at least the store I was at, will haul out $100 worth of accessories with a phone and quote the price with the accessories as though they come with the phone. It's not until you question the price that they'll tell you that the accessories are, well, just accessories and not part of the package. On the plus side, by trading in my iPhone 5, I actually paid very little to upgrade to the 5S. )

Was all the waiting worth it? I don't know yet. But I can say this: "space gray" looks better than gold.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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