Midnight Droid madness in Manhattan

One store in New York City begins selling the new Motorola Droid at midnight, before the phone goes on sale nationally.

NEW YORK--More than a hundred people were lined up at midnight outside a Verizon Wireless store in midtown Manhattan to be among the first people to buy the new Motorola Droid.

More than a hundred people showed up at a Verizon Wireless store in New York City at midnight to buy the new Motorola Droid Thursday night. Marguerite Reardon/CNET

About 65 eager shoppers lined the south side of West 34th Street across from Macy's in Manhattan at 11:30 p.m. Thursday waiting for the store to open. Verizon opened the store from midnight to 2 a.m. to give people in the Big Apple a head start on the morning cell phone rush. By midnight, when the doors officially opened, about 100 people stood in line as Verizon officials ushered in customers 25 at a time.

Once inside the store, about 13 sales representatives and another four or five device specialists milled around, helping customers and demonstrating the phone's features. Representative were also helping customers transfer contacts to their new phone.

Verizon Wireless spokesman David Samberg said he felt confident that Verizon would be able to meet customer demand for the new Droid in New York City. The 34th Street store alone had at least 500 Droids as well as some HTC Android Eris phones, and Samberg said he expects anyone wanting to buy a Droid on Friday in New York City will be able to get one.

"Five hundred phones is a lot of phones to sell in one day," he said.

Most people standing in line for the new Motorola Droid are long time, loyal Verizon Wireless customers. Marguerite Reardon/CNET

Most of the people standing in line at midnight for a Droid were loyal Verizon Wireless customers. Geoffrey Aravallis, who stopped to pick up his Droid on his way home from a dance club in the city, said he has been a Verizon Wireless customer for nine years.

He said he had been tempted to switch to AT&T for the iPhone but didn't because he felt Verizon has a better network than AT&T. Now that the Droid is out, he is glad he waited.

"I use Gmail and all kinds of Google services, so it's nice to be able to have all that on my phone," he said. "And the Droid is much more open than the iPhone."

Gabrielle Dahms admitted she had also been tempted to get the iPhone. But she had heard terrible things about AT&T's network and was leery about making the switch. Instead, she decided to wait for the Droid.

"It has all the features I like on the iPhone," she said. "Plus it has a real keyboard, which sold me."

Many people have been comparing the new Droid to the iPhone, and some have even called the new device the true iPhone killer. But judging from the people I talked with who were buying the Droid, it looks like it might be more of a BlackBerry killer.

Dahms and her boyfriend, Will Welch, had been BlackBerry Curve users. Welch said he had tried the BlackBerry Storm last year when it first came out, but he didn't like it. He also thought the iPhone was cool, but was unwilling to switch carriers for it. And he said he would have probably upgraded to the BlackBerry Tour if the Droid hadn't come along.

The Droid will hit store shelves nationally starting at 7 a.m. Friday in many stores around the country. CNET News will be covering the launch, so stay tuned for updates.

 

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