Unless Apple announces a pre-order plan prior to launch, the iPhone will apparently follow in the footsteps of the Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and other must-have gadgets that spawned long lines (hopefully with no rioting) as hopefuls amass at AT&T stores and Apple retail outlets to snag initial inventory. Here are a few tips for getting your best chance at a first-day buy:
Prepare to wait in line Some stores are taking waiting lists (see below), but most are sticking to the official policy of first come, first serve. Several AT&T/Cingular locations we spoke with said "there will be a line" and that initial inventory figures are currently unavailable.
Get a list of local stores and find out if they will be carrying the phone AT&T offers a store finder, and you can also use Google Maps to generate a visual overview of stores in your area, allowing you to plan a route if you plan to hit multiple stores in your quest.
Using Google Maps, select the Find business function. Put Cingular (most AT&T retail locations are still classified under the Cingular brand) in the first text field, and your city/state (e.g. Portland, OR) in the second field. Click Search Businesses and you'll receive a list of local iPhone outlets.
Trek to a remote outlet Big cities will mean big lines (at least they did for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360). Consider making the trip to a rural or remote location to get your iPhone -- but make sure they are getting stock (as noted below).
Make sure the store(s) you are going to plain to stock the iPhone As previously reported, some AT&T/Cingular stores are not planning on stocking the iPhone at launch. As such, you may want to call in advance of June 29th and make sure that the store(s) you plan on visiting explicitly plan to have stock on launch-day.
Waiting lists -- doesn't hurt to ask Although AT&T/Cingular and Apple's policy thus far has been to bar waiting lists, several users have reported that business reps or AT&T/Cingular retail locations have agreed to place names in a purchase queue. Although you might be denied on release day regardless of whether or not you are on a purported list, there's no harm in asking.
eBaying it eBay and Craigslist will undoubtedly be populated with iPhones for sale soon after the device's release. Though availability via this method will be heavily dependent on initial contract requirements, the presence of a SIM card slot on the iPhone means that it should be (at least in theory) readily transferabble between Cingular accounts.
Try the online Apple Store In addition to retail Apple outlets and AT&T/Cingular locations, the online Apple Store will be taking orders for the iPhone on launch-day. Though you won't get one on the 29th, Apple may have more substantial stock for direct shipment than your local retail outlets.
Other tips for being the first to get an iPhone? Please let us know.