New York: G1 business is brisk, though maybe not booming
Business for T-Mobile's new G1 phone is brisk, if not exactly booming, in the byways and boroughs of New York City, as Jacqueline Emigh found out first-hand today.
NEW YORK, N.Y. (BetaNews) -- Although the lines weren't necessarily all that long, some New Yorkers did get up early to stand in queue on the first day of sales for T-Mobile's G1, the first phone to be based on the Google-spearheaded Android open source platform.
At one T-Mobile store in Brooklyn, about 20 people stood in place at 8:00 am, when the shop opened its doors two hours earlier than usual to let in waiting G1 buyers. The store was ready for sales, with 150 G1 phones in stock.
"There weren't as many customers as we'd expected, but we did hand out numbers to them," a T-Mobile employee recalled, when I stopped by at mid-day.
As of 11:00 am, the Brooklyn store hadn't sold out yet. "But some of the T-Mobile stores in Manhattan are sold out, and they've been sending some customers over here," the employee told me.
In the 45 minutes I spent in the store, up to 15 or 20 customers were present at any given time -- not unimpressive, really, considering the small size of the storefront as well as the fact that T-Mobile customers Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and Sprint all have stores on the same block.
Taking a peek inside the Verizon Wireless store -- which is about four times as big -- I saw three customers in the whole place.
At least four people bought G1s during the 45 minutes I was at the T-Mobile shop. A bunch of others played around with the new phone at the G1 display, while some were there for other purposes entirely, mainly paying their phone bills.
I spoke with a few of the customers, giving them a guarantee of anonymity. "I came here to get a G1. That's the only reason I'm here," said a reticent Customer #1, a trendily dressed 20-something-year-old. "I'm tired of what I have, and I want something new."
Another fellow -- let's call him Customer #2 -- said he'd just gotten a phone call from T-Mobile Customer Service offering him an upgrade if he buys a G1. No, T-Mobile isn't giving out free G1s, or even discounts on the phones. But some customers are getting discounts on 3G network upgrades, depending on their current service plans, the T-Mobile employee explained.
Pulling a rather beat-up old Samsung out of his pocket, Customer #2 said he's more than ready to trade it in for 3G service and a new phone with a track pad and slide-out QWERTY keyboard.
Other customers in the store were just looking, including Customer #3, who's seeking a US service plan along with a new phone after moving to New York from Korea.
"The G1 seems better for me than an [Apple] iPhone," according to Customer #3, elaborating that the QWERTY keyboard is the dealmaker as he sees it.
Customer #4, on the other hand, said he'll probably buy a G1, but just not now. Presenting his own T-Mobile Wing, he noted that he already owns a phone with a touch screen and slide-out keyboard.
"The G1's camera is probably better, and the Street View app is nice. But the prices of all of these phones come down over time...I used to be into phones a lot, but I'm just not that much into them right now," said the 30-ish Customer #4, who indicated that his spending priorities have been changing lately.