Here's the easy way to buy an iPhone: Don't have a plan.
I didn't intend to get an iPhone today.
But a phone call to a friend -- who I knew was at a local shopping center near a Verizon store -- changed my mind. The upshot: a short line out front.
"Wait, this is the first day of iPhone 5 sales and this is Los Angeles. And you're telling me there isn't a long line?" -- was, more or less, what I said.
By the time I got there the line was down to five or six people (just after 11:00). After 15 minutes I was in the store and they had what I wanted (see photo above).
It seemed too easy. Earlier in the morning, I had confirmed with a rep at the Apple Store in Century City (near Hollywood) that there was a long line (he said it was at least a two-hour wait).
So, I can conclude a couple of things. One, Apple pushed out plenty of inventory to low-profile outlets, like my local Verizon store. Two, high-profile Apple Stores -- like the one in Century City -- are the last place you want to go.
I'm already planning not to plan when the iPhone 6 arrives.