Palm Pre goes on sale nationwide, line forms on the right

Oh, hey, look at that: you can buy a Pre now! As of 8:00AM on the East Coast, the phone went on sale at Sprint stores, with Best Buy, Radio Shack and Wal-Mart also retailing the phone today as Saturday dawns across the country. After Sprint's invite only pre-Pre launch event last night, we still saw plenty of folks lined up outside Sprint's "flagship" New York store in the Flatiron Building before the doors opened. Apparently people started queuing around 5:00AM, with Chris Lee and Randy Williams the first through the door -- replacing a Treo Pro and a HTC Mogul, respectively. Like last night, the process took about 40 minutes, but a lot of that is spent waiting for a small pit crew of Sprint employees to swap over your address book, so if you forgo that we'd say you can be in and out in 30, which should still be plenty of time to savor the moment. Word is that the Flatiron store has about 100 units, but it's clear that inventory varies widely between locations and retailers -- Touchstones seem to be a much rarer commodity.

We'll be checking out some other launches across the country, so stay tuned, and be sure to send in your own pictures and impressions!

Some word from the wilds:
Tipster Brad says that his Best Buy store in Orlando has only 9 Pres available, and they're giving them out one by one on an appointment basis -- he was fourth in line, so he'll be going back at 12:15PM to pick his up. Unfortunately, their Touchstone stock is zero.

Kevin C. Tofel was fourth in line at his local Sprint store, which purportedly had 30 phones in stock, but he picked up the last of the Touchstones.

We just checked in at the Bryant Park Sprint store in New York City, and while Pre inventory is cool, they are all out of Touchstones. We're starting to think the supply of those is quite limited. We also hear that at least one tenacious gentleman got in line at 6:00PM yesterday, and spent the night outside the store in order to get his first.

San Francisco

At about 7:45AM PT, the line around the the 388 Market Street Sprint Store numbered about 15, teetering just barely around a corner. Our first person in line, a self-proclaimed Palm fanatic and future Pre developer, had been out there since 6:00AM, with a chair-clad individual taking up slot number two since 6:30AM.

The vibe here is pretty chill, but everyone seems pretty satisfied with their purchase. The Touchstone doesn't have quite the same story, however. One customer we spoke with said he wasn't getting one because it was "too expensive," and that at $40 he might consider it (the inductive charger now retails for $70). It doesn't look like the line is extending too much at this point.

Thirty minutes after its launch and we're still seeing a line outside -- nothing too big, but noticeable. The catch here is that Sprint is only letting about ten people in at a time -- at least the weather's much nicer here than our East Coast sojourners. By our estimates, it takes about 15 to 20 minutes for each customer to get registered and take their new baby out of here. Hey look, it's Jon Rubinstein, here to see the action for himself -- and of course to show off his personal smartphone. Three guesses what it is.

More celebrity sightings. Here we are with Gizmodo's Brian Lam, lost in deep thought.

We got word that the Castro Street store had a pretty major crowd this morning, so we headed over there to see what was going down. According to one customer who showed up close to 7:15AM this morning, there were about 50 people in line and were told only 25 or so Pres would be in store, with the rest getting on a wait list and possibly getting one later (we heard reports of some stock maybe being moved around the city to accommodate).


We sent someone packing over to the store at 1 W. Division Street in Chicago, and the line had started off pretty frigging long, easily outstripping the store's supply of units. 37 folks received numbers, while the rest were told they were welcome to sign up for a waitlist. Those who are out of luck are being told to "wait and see" if there are any extras -- we figure they stocked a few extra in case someone wanted to buy two -- and they say it's plausible more units will arrive later today. No guarantees, though. Oh, and they're all out of Touchstones, too -- in fact, we were told that all of Chicago is currently out of them, and that they're on order.

Line-waiters were bonding, exchanging stories of their tribulations in the hours and minutes leading up to their purchase. We got the sense that most folks here were existing Sprint customers, but activations were still taking about ten minutes or longer; there were three employees on duty, so needless to say, the line wasn't moving particularly fast.

This is a bin that we've playfully termed "The Bin."

Buyers were in no rush to leave the store after activating, eagerly showing off their gear to the less fortunate. Our man on the ground was accused of "showing off" while emailing on his own Pre, but hey, we had to send an email. What could we do?


50 people in line at the Sprint store in Honolulu, thanks to Aaron for sending in a pic!