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New York's iPhone line is a shadow of its former self

There's a line, sure, and it stretches to the corner of the next block over. But it pales in comparison to the hordes who camped out for the iPhone last year.

NEW YORK--There are video crews gearing up at the Fifth Avenue Apple Store for the iPhone 3G launch in just under two hours, but the line is only about a quarter the length of last year's.

And, to boot, many of the eager Apple customers near the back of the line got here within the past half hour. Clearly, a five-day wait isn't necessary this time around. (It wasn't last year, either, as customers soon learned.) The line continues to get longer as more people show up, but it's gotten obvious that the wait for the iPhone 3G won't be any longer than the wait for a moderately popular concert or movie premiere.

So who gets the first iPhone? Well, the concept of "first" has been muddled a bit in this case, because the first spot in line hsa been occupied by a rotating group of sustainable-agriculture activists from Waiting for Apples since July 4.

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