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Don't mock me for iPhone lust

Not everybody will brave San Francisco's cold and mean streets just to be among the first to buy an iPhone 3G. But that's not our fault.

Dale Larson, first in line outside San Francisco's Apple store sits near his tent and answers the curious. Greg Sandoval/CNET Networks

SAN FRANCISCO--The twenty-something woman trash-talking us is definitely no fan girl.

"They'll be selling these stupid phones on eBay in a year," she snarls as she stalks past the 25 of us lined up outside Apple's store here late Thursday evening.

She's wearing a sweatshirt from a college in the Midwest and toting a shopping bag so someone barks back: "tourist!" But she's not the only one who mocks us for camping out all night--braving this city's shivery summer air--for something as ho-hum as a cell phone. "Is it really that serious?" asks a man wearing a tweed sport coat and smirk.

Forgive them Steve Jobs. They know not what they do.

The iPhone 3G debuts Friday morning and across the country, Apple fans, iPhone lovers, and people curious about why friends say the device has changed their lives, are sleeping on the streets. They want to be the first to enter Apple's retail stores when doors open at 8 a.m.

The questions from passerby this evening, whether legitimately curious or intent on snickering at us, generally follows the same line: "Why put yourself through this just for some consumer good?"

Consumer good? To the bleary-eyed people standing in line with me, the hope is that they will be among the first to own the next transcendent and culture-changing Apple gadget.

The iPhone, many of them believe, is ready to take up a spot alongside the Mac and iPod.

Harcore iPhone fans lined up outside San Francisco's Apple store. Greg Sandoval/CNET Networks

"This device has changed my life," declares Ilan Fehler, a 21-year-old student at the University of Arizona, who considers himself lucky to be third in line.

Dale Larson is customer No.1 at this store. The 39-year old consultant on mobile products said says he's not particularly tied to Apple gear but he acknowledges he started camping out on Wednesday evening.

He pitched a tent and stayed the night. He said he felt a little embarrassed when Apple's watchman said goodnight and he was the only person in line. "I thought there would be so many more people here," he said.

Still, nothing dampened his enthusiasm for the iPhone. "I would get excited over any product that works as well," Larson said. "But nothing does. This device opens everything up. Developers can develop and consumers can take advantage of their innovation."

Larson said that the first version of iPhone was enough to generate intense interest in version 2, with it's faster 3G network and cheaper price.

So If you're reading this and happen to be in downtown San Francisco in the wee hours this morning, don't bother asking why we're out here. Just read the T-shirts handed out to everyone in line by employees of, a company that sells Apple accessories.

Written on the T-shirt is: "You had me at..." and it ends with the symbol of a phone."

UPDATE: About 50 people are in line here at 4:50 a.m. PT. I made a rough count of those videotaped by my colleague Caroline McCarthy outside of New York's Fifth Avenue Apple Store and there are at least three times as many there.

Come on San Francisco, you're being out-teched by New York. The shame...

CNN is reporting that more than 1,000 people waited in line for the iPhone 3G in Tokyo.

2nd UPDATE: Way to go S.F.. It's 6:45 a.m. PT and there's easily 150 people standing in line, including some of my competitors from VentureBeat. They're showing me up a bit by handing out some delicious donuts in a shameless marketing gimmick. For the record, I'm ahead of them in line (The non hackers didn't show up until midnight).

The blog must be getting big if Matt Marshall or Dean Takahashi aren't out here. Missed you guys.

Click here for CNET News' complete iPhone 3G coverage.