There are few companies that can attract a queue for a product that has not even been announced. But walk by Apple's flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York City, and for the next few weeks, they'll be there. A few hardy souls have started lining up for the iPhone 6 expected to be unveiled Sept. 9.
For the first four early birds, camping out is about more than just a new phone.
Leading the charge are husband and wife Jason and Moon Ray from Jackson, Mississippi. While they're excited about the anticipated announcement, they're also using it as a forum to gain some attention. Their goal on the street is to "raise awareness about America's lacking access to affordable health care," said Moon Ray. They both represent a new telemedicine mobile app, Video Medicine.
"To have the first place position is key to PR," Jason Ray said.
Next in line is Joseph Cruz. Cruz's cousin, who is camping out with him, was showering at a nearby gym at the time CBS News stopped by. Sporting a "Buy Back World" t-shirt, Cruz explained how he's turned waiting in line into something of a business opportunity. Companies will "pay you to advertise their company and then they'll buy you the phone," he explained.
Cruz has been camping out ahead of iPhone announcements for the last five years, and the job has never proved to be so lucrative so quickly. He was actually first to arrive at the Fifth Avenue Apple store on Sunday, but then the couple from Video Medicine arrived one day later and offered to pay for his spot. Cruz said, "I thought they were kidding around, so I just said $2,000."
Taking account of his cousin, the company wrote them a check for $2,500 and they switched spots.
Luckily for both the Rays and Cruz, their flexible work-from-home jobs enable them to take an indefinite vacation on the streets of New York. Moon Ray is an actress, model and writer, Jason Ray is a consultant for Video Medicine, and Cruz is music producer.
To make it through a long wait -- possibly three weeks or more; the release date for the new iPhone 6 has not yet been announced -- they had to be stringent in deciding the contents of their survival kit. Essentials include an inflatable mattress, tarp, solar charger, and of course, their iPhones.
Personal hygiene is a challenge, but they have a plan. "We have a month-long membership to the YMCA down the road so we can take showers," assured Jason Ray. "And the Apple store is open 24 hours a day so we can use the restroom."
They're not worried about safety either.
"Sometimes there's weird people at night," said Cruz, "but the people here treat us nice. Apple, the cops, we're well respected."
"There's people looking after us and taking care of us," said Moon Ray. "We feel really safe."
The early birds are also helping each other.
"We've turned into a family," said Moon Ray. "We've got each others' backs."
"When you're spending twenty days with someone," her husband added, "you need to have some trust."
Still not convinced it's worth it? Well, their families would agree. "Obviously they think we're nuts," said Cruz, "but they support us one hundred percent."