iPhone Watch: 4 Days and Counting

| About: Apple Inc. (AAPL)

By Carl Howe

Some key development for Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone watchers:

iPhone Buzz Subsides for the Work Week

The iPhone buzz index fell back to a more routine 5,736 stories on Google News yesterday as we entered the home stretch to the iPhone launch. There was no real new news because we had just come off the weekend, but opinion pieces continued to split between 1) iPhone is going to completely change the industry (as articled by the Seattle Times), and 2) iPhone is going to be a disappointment and here's why (courtesy of Bloomberg). The good news: by this time next week, we should have a pretty good read one way or the other.

iPhones AND SIMs locked to AT&T

You'll get this story later today from AT&T (NYSE:T), but word has it that iPhone subscriber identification cards -- those little chip-like cards that are standard throughout the GSM mobile phone world -- are NOT interchangeable with other carriers. So if you have a T-Mobile GSM account and somehow get an iPhone in your hands, you won't be able to swap in your SIM card and have your iPhone work on T-Mobile. Apple signed an exclusive deal with AT&T -- and they are using every technology in their arsenal to enforce that exclusivity. Sorry.

iPhone Camp-Out Line Begins Outside New York's 5th Ave. Apple Store

Vicarious Music has photos showing a couple people already in line for Friday's iPhone launch. We've been predicting there would be camp out lines for a while. Anyone got photos of someone camping out outside an AT&T store?

Apple iPhone Kiosk Movie on YouTube

For those not wanting to wait in line to get into their Apple Store on Friday or Saturday, someone has kindly put a giant iPhone kiosk video up on YouTube. It doesn't really have anything you couldn't get from the Web site, but it's a nice way to see how Apple is marketing the device four minutes of animated pictures. Thanks to Macrumors.com for the heads-up.

iPhone Security Tight -- And Rightfully So

AppleInsider has, in my opinion, the best nugget of the day about iPhone logistics::

Awaiting the [iPhone shipment] freight at each location on Sunday were armored personnel, who were reportedly hired by Apple through its courier's ground handling agent and then cleared by the Transportation Security Administration. Armed guards are extremely unusual for freight coming out of the Asian sector, those familiar with the matter explained, and are typically reserved for shipments containing riches such as gold and diamonds.

Think that's over-reacting? Do the math. Word has it that the largest Apple and AT&T stores may receive stock of up to 10,000 iPhones. At an average selling price of $550, that comes out to a shipment valuation of -- $5.5 million. And given that we expect iPhones to be auctioned on eBay in the range of $800 to $2,000 for customers who don't want to pay their monthly cell dues to AT&T, it could be worth even more to the enterprising truck hijacker.

But the article goes on with another fun tidbit:

Apple management on Sunday began informing its retail personnel that beginning Monday, no cameras of any kind will be allowed in the back stockrooms of its retail outlets. The ban reportedly spans all cell phones -- regardless of whether they contain camera functionality -- and all personally owned Apple notebooks that feature built-in iSight video cameras.

The irony here should be apparent: for those Apple employees who actually fork out their own hard-earned dollars for an iPhone, they'll have to leave those iPhones with someone when they go into the back room to check on stock. They'll then know who their true friends are; they'll be the ones that they can trust with their iPhone while they are working and not have them sell it for a quick kilobuck on eBay.