I just came back from the Softbank flagship store in “Tokyo’s Fifth Avenue”, Omotesandou street. Softbank is the exclusive carrier of the 3G iPhone, which will be available extra-early in this particular store on July 11th, 7 am (July 10th, 6pm EST).
And the man you can see in the video, Hiroyuki Sano, will be the first person in Asia to lay his hands on the 3G iPhone (assuming stores in Hong Kong will open later in the day). I shot the video and the pictures just now, in the middle of the night (July 8th, 2pm EST). This means Hiroyuki and the 15 people waiting with him must suffer for another 52 hours from Tokyo’s tropical heat. Another (more insightful yet shaky) video can be found here.
After forcing Hiroyuki to greet his fellow Western Apple and CrunchGear fans, I took the chance to interview him. Here is the gist of what he said:
- he was already interviewed several times by Japanese bloggers, TV and radio stations (I was the first gaijin)
- he is 24 and will celebrate his 25th birthday on July 11th (!)
- he skipped classes at college for 4 days to be able to queue up
- he travelled 230 miles from his hometown Nagoya to Tokyo
- he paid more for the travel than he will need for the iPhone itself ($213)
- he is waiting in front of the Softbank store since July 7th, 11pm EST
- he suffers from sunburn and boredom
- he denies being crazy
I would say Apple Japan owes this guy a massive schwag bag.
(the first gaijin in Asia to get the iPhone being interviewed by NHK, Japan’s national TV station)
I was at the store again at 9 am EST (with 10 hours to go), and now 600 people are waiting in line (and counting). The first gaijin in the line (at No. 41 and 42) are two of my friends, Adam Johnson and Jeff Ames from the USA. They both run Genkii, a Tokyo-based web consulting company, and they are waiting since yesterday. You can have their numbers for $2,000 each, they told me.
The place turned into a warzone with around 100 Softbank employees dashing around in preperation for tomorrow and maybe two dozen guards. I saw policemen who formed a human wall to protect the first shipment of iPhones, which were transported from the delivery trucks inside the store.