Apple on Friday 29 June began selling the iPhone through its own retail channel and stores for the device's operator, AT&T/Cingular.
The first iPhones were sold on the east coast, where customers who had been waiting in line for as many as four days were finally able to purchase the devices. Other Apple and AT&T stores across the country opened their doors at 6PM local time.
At the downtown San Francisco Apple Store, the opening capped a long and anxious wait for hundreds of consumers who had been standing in line for as long as 33 hours.
Apple closed down the store at 2pm and placed large black curtains over the windows while staff prepared the various iPhone displays. By 5:30pm, members of the press and curious onlookers began to gather in front of the store, joining the hundreds of prospective buyers.
The anticipation continued to mount until 6:00pm, when the first customers were let in to the store by cheering Apple employees.
Jerry Taylor, who had been waiting on a San Francisco sidewalk since Thursday morning, was the first to emerge, triumphantly holding the unopened box amidst a crowd of television camera crews and photographers.
Taylor was soon followed by other customers carrying their iPhones in black bags nicknamed "tote bags of glory" by one journalist.
Inside the store, jubilant customers lined up to purchase the US$499 and US$599 iPhone models.
Customer Andrew Velis described the feeling of finally getting an iPhone as simply "awesome".
"Everyone was cheering, it was mayhem," Velis said of his entry into the store.
Vellis, who began waiting at 6 PM on Thursday, plans on first taking a nap when he gets home.
"Then I'm going to play with my new toy," he declared.
The overnight wait proved to be largely unnecessary for many customers. Brian Porea waited only four hours before being able to getting into the store to purchase an iPhone. His first call will be to a friend in Atlanta who himself called Porea three hours earlier from his new iPhone.
Many of those who did endure the long wait, however, had no regrets.
Tyler Martin, an online entrepreneur who was visiting San Francisco from Canada, joined the iPhone queue at 11pm on Thursday.
"It's not necessarily the product that was worth it," Martin explained.
"But for me to come to America and experience this whole event has been worth it."
- The Silicon Valley Sleuth blog has videos of:
The first person in line in San Francisco
The opening of the San Francisco Apple store at 6pm
A hands-on demo of the iPhone