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Inside the psyche of an iPhone lover

July 11, 2008 |  4:47 pm

iPhone lover Deon Aiken You might be one of those people who drove by the Beverly Center this morning, saw the crowd of people waiting in line for the iPhone and thought, “Why are those crazy people waiting in line for a phone? One that they can probably get next week without waiting in line? And one that’s kinda expensive once you factor in the data charges?”

The only way to answer those pressing and important questions is to get inside the psyche of a iPhone buyer. There were many in line at the Beverly Center this morning, but few seemed as fanatic –- or hip (which is, as everyone knows, a prerequisite for being an Apple user) –- as Deon Aiken, a 22-year old L.A. resident who works in retail.

Aiken and friends Gabriel Hardrick and Christian Henriquez woke up at 4:30 a.m. at their home near USC with the intention of arriving at the Beverly Center before anyone else to buy the very first iPhone. Being among the first is essential for Mac hipness, Aiken says.

“If anyone else has it, there’s no point of getting it. It’s not as cool.”

They arrived at 6 a.m. and weren’t even almost first in line. Aiken estimated he was around 76th. If they had arrived at 4:30 a.m., as Vince Valkov and Danni Milanova did, they would have been ninth and 10th in line. Guess Aiken and friends should have had more coffee.

Aiken waited and waited and waited, and was nearing the front of the line by 9 a.m. He was slightly anxious that the iPhone was going to be sold out, which would severely lower his hip factor. He said he could no longer put up with his Samsung phone, which was so busted that its screen doesn’t show numbers or texts (although vintage phones might, in some worlds, be considered hip).

“It’s the newest thing on the block,” he said. “You’ve got to have the tool.”

Aiken said he had been anticipating the arrival of the new phone for months. He passed on the last iPhone because it seemed expensive and because he was waiting for the company to iron out the kinks. Now, he can’t wait to use the GPS and buy music straight from his phone.

“If you don’t have a 3G, you’re nobody,” he said.

-- Alana Semuels

Semuels, a Times staff writer, covers marketing and the L.A. tech scene.

Photo: Deon Aiken. Credit: Cristian Henriquez