Mobile

Apple fans are already camping out for the iPhone 5 (but it’s not just for an iPhone)

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With less week until the new iPhone 5 hits retail shelves, people are already lining up outside at least one Apple Store.

The line outside Apple’s Fifth Avenue store in New York officially started eight days before the iPhone 5 launch date, reports Fortune’s Philip Elmer-DeWitt, who interviewed some of the customers. The funny thing about this launch is the number of people with ulterior motives stretching beyond simply buying a shiny new iOS device.

For instance the first two men in line are there to semi-promote their startup Vibe, a service that creates mini social networks based on the people within your immediate location (like an iPhone 5 line). They even opened up the app to developers for testing this week, according to Forbes. The third person in line writes for an iPhone blog, and was actually subsidized by old iPhone-buying business Gazelle last year for the iPhone 4S line — something Gazelle is doing again this year.

Customer four is/was holding out for someone to pay for their spot in-line, and numbers five and six are musicians hoping to gain some exposure.

See where I’m going with this? The iPhone release is slowly transforming even more into a beast of self-promotion and marketing. I’m not suggesting that this is a bad thing (or even a new development), but in light of so many people feeling underwhelmed by the iPhone 5 it’s certainly worth noting.

And regular customers — the ones who make up the majority of Apple’s iPhone sales and who aren’t in line — probably don’t even realize why the iPhone 5 is significantly better than the previous model, as VentureBeat’s Ricardo Bilton previously noted.

The iPhone 5 is scheduled to go on sale Sept. 21, and analysts expect that Apple could sell as many as 12 million in September alone.