Those people began queuing up in front of Apple stores around the country well in advance of the phone's on-sale date. In New York's Apple store on 5th Avenue, popularly known as "the cube," the line started as early as last week.
New Yorker Daniel Bowman Simon is heading up the line. Not a typical Apple fan, Simon is standing outside of the store in support of "The WHO Farm," a group that wants to get the White House lawn turned into an organic farm.
"I'm number one. ... I got here on Independence Day — July Fourth. We missed the fireworks," he said. "We go to bed around midnight when it quiets down, and we wake up at 5 a.m. when all of the businessmen, women and trucks start coming in."
Last year, New Yorker Greg Packer was first in line at the same store to pick up the iPhone. This week, he stood out front to cheer on his 3G-buying brethren.
"I was here at 5 a.m. on Monday morning last year. The phone was coming out at 6 p.m. that Friday. This was my spot right here," Packer said, pointing to Simon's spot. "People brought me food. I was the first person to buy the phone."
In New York, international tourists swarmed the Apple store to get a better look at the phone.
"I am coming back to the Apple store on July 11 to buy the iPhone in Miami," said Taisa Lopes, a Brazilian high school student visiting the United States with her school. "I am buying it for my dad."
Apple's international push could help bolster the company's sales goals of pushing 10 million units out by the end of 2008.
"Given the way things are going right now, they're definitely on track to meet their goal," Gartenberg said.
Rubin agreed. "Even though there may be less excitement than there was for the first-generation product, there still may be much stronger sales reflected in the new pricing," he said.
But don't expect to see a repeat of last year's string of iPhone copy cats such as the Samsung Instinct, Rubin said. Instead you can expect touchscreen phones with different features so that companies can differentiate themselves from Apple.
"No company has really put together all the components that make the product unique. Any phone right now that has a large touchscreen is being compared to the iPhone," he said. "Manufacturers are going to have to pave a road out of this comparison. ... Ultimately, you don't want to be offering something that's like the iPhone."