Swedish operator TeliaSonera doesn't seem to have been sure that its iPhone 3G launch would attract enough people. It planned to hire 150 extras to stand in line "to create a better atmosphere and excitement", according to an e-mail message obtained by MacWorld Sweden.
The event company that sent the message confirmed its content as genuine in an interview with the magazine.
"We sent out an e-mail on Wednesday, but the client decided to cancel at the last minute," said Pilar Baettig, human resources assistant at PS Communication.
Under the title "Urgent: Swedish launch of a new design product - Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö (150 people)," the e-mail reads: "A new product from a well known IT company will be launched in Sweden, and we need your help. Tomorrow (Thursday 10/7) a lot of people will gather outside Telia stores, who want to get their hands on the coveted product. We are now looking for 50 extras in each city to act as a people waiting in line to create a better atmosphere and excitement for the product. You only have to stand in line, and if an unusual amount of people turn up to stand in line for real you won't have to stay. You will get paid for the whole evening no matter what, and you will also get coffee/hot chocolate, hot dogs, give-aways et cetera."
TeliaSonera denies it planned to use extras to bulk up waiting lines for the iPhone, but had contacted an event company regarding something else, according to a spokeswoman.
In the end the operator needn't have worried. Swedish Apple fans have been waiting since the announcement of the iPhone on Jan. 9 last year, and didn't want to wait any longer. There were 400 people standing in line outside Telia's flagship store in Stockholm when it opened at midnight between Thursday and Friday, and another 200 people were queuing in Gothenburg and Malmö.
The company's original plan was to close its stores at 3 a.m., but in the end the Stockholm store closed at 5.15 a.m. "We didn't want anyone to leave empty handed," said Håkan Dahlström, president of Mobility Services at TeliaSonera Sweden.