iPhone 4 launch day line watch (update: Woz in action)

From the London store

Welcome to the latest installment of our annual tradition: the iPhone launch day queue experience in pictorial form. London's getting the party started early (not as early as some, admittedly) with a sizable crowd turning the corner from the Apple Store at Regent Street, but we'll keep this post updated with imagery from all over the place. Wouldn't mind if you helped us out with a few of your own pics, either. You know where to send them in by now, and once you've done that, feel free to slide past the break to see how everyone else is doing it.

Update: Now with reports from San Francisco!

Update 2:
NY joins the fray!

Update 3: We added some of the more interesting reader-submitted stories.

Update 4: Reports from Palo Alto and San Jose, California!

Update 5: London's doors have swung open and we're now busy activating our brand new Apple phones.

Update 6: Woz and his Segway make their regular appearance at the San Jose Valley Fair Apple Store.

Update 7: We're adding a bunch of reader reports. Even as Apple opens its doors to pre-orderers in the US, the lines remain crazy.

Update 8: Apple serving fries in Chicago!

Update 9: We've added our London video that was intended for the latest Engadget Show. Enjoy!

Video from the London line:

3:53PM ET -- Our own Chris Ziegler has informed us that Apple is now serving food to line-waiters at its Michigan Avenue store in Chicago, and assures us that "these fries are the real deal."

10:56AM ET -- Woz emerges triumphant, a grin on his face and an full Apple bag in one hand, mounts his trusty Segway, and rides off into the sunset... or at least the Valley Fair parking lot.

10:00AM ET -- 3... 2... 1... and the doors open at the San Jose Valley Fair Apple Store, the first batch of overnight campers (including Woz) files in, and Apple employees clap like mad the entire time.

Inside the store, we watch the activation process at work -- not to mention the Woz signature process.

10:00AM ET -- "10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 4, 4, 4!" And so went the cheers of the Apple store employees, lined up in some form of human-borne corridor as the first people were let into the San Francisco store. The crowd stretched three blocks and in many places was five to seven people thick.

While not the first to enter the store, this dude was definitely first to leave with a phone in tow. Cue the swarm!

9:52AM ET -- The line outside San Jose Valley Fair now literally stretches as far as the eye can see, around both corners of the mall. This first pic's just the line for those who preordered.

9:22AM ET --
It's the running of the Apple employees! There they go, pouring out the rear exit of the San Jose Apple Store like a bolt from the blue, leaving stunned folks high fived in their wake.

9:00AM ET -- At the San Jose Valley Fair store, the throng is hundreds strong but calm and orderly an hour before doors open. Outside, a mall cop directs the huddled masses to vacate the street, while the select group inside are served free coffee and madeleines by a Starbucks cart. Lucky!

Woz is signing autographs, as usual. We've yet to spot his trademark Nixie Watch.

7:00AM ET -- The line in Jacksonville, Florida. [Thanks, Marvin R.]

5:19AM ET -- The "line" in Boca Raton, Florida. [Thanks, James F.]

6.32AM ET -- The madness continues unabated. Gasper sends in the below picture of Parisian iPhone lust embodied in crowd form, while Brandon provides us with an image from Menlo Park, NJ. He tells us there are two lines there with at least 300 people in each. "Ridiculous" is how he describes it and we can't help but agree.

3.23AM ET -- Steve Wozniak, in what has become a rite of passage at the San Jose Valley Fair Apple Store, entertains line sitters with his unparalleled Segway skills.

2.39AM ET THURSDAY -- We've been let in through the hallowed gates here in London and are presently having our credit card, social security, biometric, and DNA information processed for Genius compatibility. Seriously though, Apple's having a couple of hiccups with its servers at the moment, and the anticipation is having to continue beyond what most people expected.

P.S. -- Some exemplary customer service later, though, and we've returned to the Engadget mansions with our iPhone 4 in tow. Can we interest you in a review of this thing?

11:30PM ET -- You can't see it, but the party's just begun in Tampa, FL -- where readers Mauro Z. and Nikol H. are part of an estimated 150+ person line stretching around the International Plaza mall. Pizza delivery has begun, air mattresses are being unrolled and folks are testing out FaceTime with iPhone 4 units presumably delivered to folks who've decided to spread the love. The image below is just the left half of the panorama.

11:30PM ET
-- The San Francisco crew has been relegated to the other side of sidewalk. It's lonely there, but hey, you get a better view of the storefront!

10:41PM ET -- Can't put an accurate timestamp on this (we'd definitely say earlier than this update by a couple hours), but the folks in Kansas City have let us know that local law enforcement stopped by to get in on some of the FIFA 10 action. We've gone and ahead and preserved his anonymity -- don't want to risk the man getting punished for the best sport we in the US just remembered existed.

ET -- Back in London, the crowd has swelled to a healthy 195 and negotiations have begun between people trying to trade up into more favorable positions. Others have opted for the waiting-by-sleeping approach.

8:41PM ET -- Owen M. from Madison, WI reportedly took this picture of the West Towne Mall line for iPhone 4 -- using his new iPhone 4. Try not to get mobbed, Owen!

7:30PM ET

-- Bobby H. from Naperville, IL just sent us a whirlwind of a story (pardon the pun). "We were just rushed into the back of the Apple store... the Tornado sirens went off. Apple has let all people stay in line inside the store. Sadly all our chairs are outside in the rain." Rest in peace, outside seat furnishings of old. Engadget Mobile's Chris Ziegler, perched high in his throne atop Chicago, corroborates reports of a few drizzles.

6:35PM ET -- Mr. Jobs hasn't made his customary appearance at either Apple Store in Palo Alto, CA quite yet, but our good friends at IntoMobile certainly have. Four from the publication have been taking turns heading a line thirteen strong for the past five hours so far. They've come well-equipped, with a portable Duracell battery to charge their MacBooks while they wait, and, yes, a Honda gasoline generator should that run out of juice.

6:30PM ET
-- Marcus M, reportedly 10th in line at a Kansas City, MO store, is biding time with a PlayStation 3, FIFA '10, and a Honda Generator.

5:30PM ET -- The Valley Fair Apple Store in San Jose, California is Steve Wozniak's usual hangout, but there's no Woz on deck today -- just seven folks camped out with little entertainment to speak of. Line leaders tell us they've been here two and a half hours so far. Good luck, folks!

5:00PM ET
-- We just dropped by The Cube on 5th Ave. in NY, and it's brimming with action as usual. There's a very brief line of pre-orderers, and then a solid contingent of non-pre-orderers who are prepped to face a warm night on the sidewalk.

Greg Packer holds his customary, subsidized place at the front of the line.

We spoke with Joey Mallon, who fronts the non-pre-orderer line, after arriving on 7am yesterday (Tuesday) with a couple of friends from Boston. The guy is just out of high school, and the world is his oyster.

4:55PM ET -- Meanwhile in San Francisco, arguably home to more venture capitalists than there is venture capital, the line has yet to really hit its stride. We just stopped by and counted only about six people, but at least four more spots were being sold off -- that's entrepreneurialism for ya. The second and third person in line had been there since Monday night and Tuesday, respectively, and as for lucky numero uno? There's an online auction for that spot.

4.14PM ET

-- We're getting rolling early here in London. It's evening time for the Brits, yet there's already about 70 of these eager souls queuing up. The first fella got here at midnight on Wednesday and he's still cheerfully awake. Good for him.