Apple-panic is a beautiful, beautiful thing. Ten years ago, Steve Jobs and Jony Ive’s revolutionary iPhone ushered in the smartphone era and potentially changed the way society interacts with one another, and it didn’t do it quietly. There’s nothing like worldwide enthusiasm for a new gadget to inspire hope, excitement, and of course, opportunism.
Take the below video, for example. Starting in 207, news coverage of iPhones quickly grew to a collective squeal that’s only recently subsided, but one story of ingenuity, entrepreneurship, and delicious, delicious justice stands out from the rest. It’s a tale of one woman with a stack of cash and a dream: to buy an entire store of iPhones. It’s also the tale of one smarmy-ass teenager and his pals, smart enough to know a rube when they see one.
The scene is thus: it’s June 28, 2007. It’s a hot summer day in Dallas, but people have nevertheless been lined up around the block for hours, if not days, to buy one of the first iPhones ever sold at the local AT&T store on Black Oak Lawn Avenue. Mark Rebillet, a beardless, shaggy-haired hopeful youth is in the very front of the line, when a woman approaches him flashing a stack of cash. Then, the magic begins.
The woman’s eyes shine with greed. She’s here, she says, to buy iPhones. A lot of iPhones. She brought $100,000 in cash, she tells the Fox 4 Dallas reporter, to buy as many as she could and sell them on eBay. At that point in 2007, a new iPhone could go for easily double its $499 price tag online, just so people wouldn’t have to wait at sold-out lines at AT&T stores. The woman thinks she’s got it made, and all that’s standing in her way is Rebillet. Watch what happens next.
The lady is a clear villain — her plan to cut the line and ruin everyone else’s line, then cash out is simple, and would have been a perfect example of American entrepreneurship, except she didn’t bother to read the rules correctly. Instead, she’s caught by the long arm of regulatory law (in this case, AT&T store policy set up to prevent exactly this from happening), and sent rightly back where she belongs, $800 poorer and significantly abashed. Smug as he is, we don’t bear any ill will toward Rebillet, even though with his ace up his sleeve (the extra friend waiting in line) he pulled a classic con over the greedy baby boomer.
The iPhone 8 is due out in September.