Profiting From the iPhone

Apple and AT&T aren't the only ones trying to get rich off the iPhone -- a band of pseudo entrepreneurs are queuing up to profit from Friday's rollout.

One popular way to make a quick buck is to line up at an Apple or AT&T store to secure a handset for an early adopter who has no desire to be an early riser. The going rate: about $200 to $300 for roughly a day or so of waiting.

Others have grabbed Internet e-mail addresses linked to the iPhone for possible resale. A quick search of eBay found dozens of them up for auction.

Want apple_phone_me@yahoo.com? Bids start at 99 cents.

Doesn't quite have the right ring? Try the.iphone.distributor@gmail.com -- it's also up for sale on eBay.

The capitalization doesn't stop there. Somebody in New Jersey has grabbed domain names www.iPhoneStop.com as well as the .net and .org versions of the name. They are asking $1,000.

But the bidding has been lukewarm at best.

Sitting Pretty

The real action seems to be in the line-holding business. Daniel Roberts, 26, of San Francisco, is one of many people selling line services -- online, of course.

He and three of his friends -- all Web developers for startup Dynayo.com -- are seeking this onetime job through Craigslist.com. The four co-workers are paid in company equity, not cash, so they need the money.

For $200 they will hold a spot in line. All four will show up no matter what, but they hope to get four buyers.

"We're covering each other's backs," Roberts said.

Tom Allen, 37, has already hired a line-sitter. The California mortgage broker was very secretive about which store his sitter would stake out.

The waiting will probably start Thursday at noon. Sales of the phone start at 6 p.m. Friday when Apple and AT&T stores reopen.

Allen said he will bring his place holder fast-food dinner and breakfast.

But he's not being nice -- Allen wants to check up on his worker to make sure he is still there. The $300 tab works out to about $10 an hour for the sitter.

"I figure I'm going to buy at least two," Allen said. "The second phone I will sell that night to somebody and get my money back."

These fees are on top of the $499 to $599 for the phone -- plus tax -- and the monthly service plan which start at $59.99.

Allen agreed to give his sitter $100 upfront. But he asked for a copy of his driver's license and a current utility bill.

"That way I can verify where he lives," said Allen, who said he is too busy with work to wait himself.

This Has Happened Before

Line place holding isn't new. Similar lines were formed for the release of Microsoft's Xbox, Sony's PlayStation 3 and Nintendo's Wii. "Professionals" popped up in all those lines.

New to the business this time is Jon May, an 18-year-old student who plans to sit outside the Walnut Creek, Calif., Apple store for $250.

"I've never done this before," May said. "My dad actually gave me the idea about doing this."

Tuesday, May had yet to secure a buyer for his services. That doesn't matter. He still plans to camp out and maybe sell his spot later.

In Dallas, Jonathan Noel, 30, plans a sit-in at the Apple store at the North Park Mall.

Will he be missing work? No. Most line-sitters are either students or have very flexible work schedules.

Noel is self-employed, taking people's home movies, editing them on his Mac and putting them on DVD.

He's being paid $175 to sit from midnight Thursday until 5 p.m., when his employer will take over. If he is one of the first 10 people in line, he gets a $50 bonus.

Noel said the mall doesn't open until early in the morning, but he will wait outside overnight and plans to be one of the first folks inside when the doors open.

Does he plan to buy an iPhone for himself?

"Oh, no," Noel said. "This is to help me pay rent."

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