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The iPhone 4 Remains Out of My Grasp: Manipulation by the Fruit Continues!

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I didn't get it!

The iPhone 4, that is.

Some of you may recall my post last week on how, as a journalistic experiment of sorts, I tried to play the "Apple game" by "reserving" on-line my very own iPhone 4, which was to be held at the Grove Apple store till the end of the business day last Thursday.

You may also recall that I felt as if I was being manipulated by a fruit! I was -- along with countless others -- and will now bring you up to date on my little Apple adventure.

As I said, I managed to get a much coveted "reservation" for a black 16GB iPhone 4, although, right from the start, the traditional Apple manipulation was all too apparent: While the email confirmation informed me that an iPhone would be held in reserve for me at the Grove shopping mall at the Farmers' Market in Los Angeles, it also said, in much, much smaller and lighter colored print, that the phone would only be available on a first come, first serve basis!

On my first attempt last week to pick up my "reserved" iPhone, I was met by a line I was told would probably take about 4-5 hours to snake its way from the far end to the Apple store door -- then, I was told, maybe another 35 minutes or more once inside to complete the transaction.

The line was so long, I couldn't help wondering whether a kid reading a well torn paperback edition of War and Peace would manage to finish the entire book by the time he got inside the Apple store?

Apple employees were busy handing out free bottles of water to the many takers.

I bailed pretty quickly once I was told how long the wait would likely be. I tried my little experiment once more toward the end of the day, only to be met by an equally long line.

Just three days later, the whole system has been updated, so to speak.

This time, when I walked into an Apple store at the Beverly Center (which, like pretty much all Apple stores in the area said it was now out of iPhone 4s) I was informed that I could make another on-line reservation for my new phone, but with a very big difference this time: This time, I was told to expect an email within days, telling me when I could pick up my phone at the store I selected. I was also told there would be no real lines to wait on -- obviously because, this time, the staggered nature of the emailed invites to "come on down," would surely head off, I think, any repeat of last Thursday's endless lines.

Of course, as I pointed out to the friendly clerk, this could have been done from the very start. But that is not what Apple was trying to accomplish. Selling its iPhone 4 last week was apparently less of a concern than creating media buzz about the product by artificially creating long lines of people that happened to create great pictures for the 6 o'clock news.

I don't know yet how all this will end. Though I was told there would be no lines in the future (just come in with my email confirmation and pick up my new toy), this could be just another attempt by Apple to manipulate its customers?

Yes, I was, indeed, manipulated by a fruit. A very, very smart fruit!

Charles Feldman is a journalist, media consultant and co-author of the book, "No Time To Think-The Menace of Media Speed and the 24-hour Media Cycle." He has covered police and politics in Los Angeles since 1995 and is a regular contributor of investigative reporting to KNX1070 Newsradio.