No recession outside the Apple Store

Waiting in line outside the Seattle Apple Store today were several people with first-generation iPhones...and one guy looking to buy one on the spot.

What recession? Right now, there are several hundred people in line at the Seattle Apple Store in University Village, waiting to buy and activate a 3G iPhone, which starts at $199 and requires a two-year commitment to a voice-and-data plan that costs at least $70 per month. The line was just long as last year's, despite the tougher economic climate and the fact that we've had more than a year to get used to the iPhone--seeing one in public isn't much of a surprise anymore.

These two gentlemen were brandishing their first-generation iPhones as they waited in line to buy their new 3G ones. Angela Rosoff

But apparently the promise of a faster data connection, GPS transceiver, third-party applications, and--probably most important--a lower retail price convinced a lot of folks that the 3G iPhone is worth lining up for. The people at the front of the line had camped out overnight, and when I asked the last person in line how long he'd been waiting, he replied, "Three hours, and it'll probably be another three before I get in." That's because Apple is activating the new iPhones on site in the store. According to a staffer there, the process took about 30 minutes when they opened this morning, but now is down to about 10, which is their goal.

I saw several people brandishing their first-generation iPhones in the line. A couple of them told me they intend to sell their old phones on eBay--or perhaps to the young man waiting at the front of the line with a "will buy old iPhone" sign.

Perhaps they'll sell them to this guy. Angela Rosoff