FARGO, N.D. — Katie Elenberger took her doctor's orders for bed rest in stride, especially because her first day of maternity leave coincided with the delivery of her iPhone.
"I've been laying on the couch by my front door all day waiting for the FedEx truck," laughed the expectant mom from her home in Moorhead, Minn. "Getting the iPhone is the highlight of my day."
Elenberger, who works as a graphic designer in Fargo, is among the thousands of people who became iPhone-eligible when AT&T's exclusive deal to carry the Apple gadget ended this week.
Previously excluded from the iPhone club because of AT&T's at-best spotty coverage in this part of the country, cell-phone users in areas of the Dakotas, Montana, Nebraska and Wyoming can now get the phone through the nation's largest wireless carrier, Verizon Wireless.
Verizon says the day it began accepting online orders for the iPhone from existing customers — including Elenberger — produced record sales. The phone became available to the general public on Thursday.
Verizon officials would not release figures on presales, but the manager of one North Dakota outlet said interest was steady ahead of Thursday's rollout.
"The demand is definitely there. A lot of people have been waiting a long time," said Barry Stall, who runs a south Fargo store.
Preston Stahley, a web developer in Billings, Mont., heard people would be camping out at stores Wednesday night, which he said "sounds kind of crazy." Stahley, 29, preordered his iPhone and received it Tuesday.
"I have sort of been waiting for quite a while," he said. "I haven't been redoing my (cell phone) contracts for a couple of years because of all the rumors that have been coming up and going away."
Bob Kelley, regional public relations manager for Verizon, said Wednesday that his store managers in Montana were too busy with the pre-iPhone rush to give interviews to The Associated Press.
Elenberger so eagerly awaited delivery of her iPhone that she knows it arrived "at 3 o'clock sharp" Monday afternoon. Within half an hour, she had transferred her contacts and set up voice mail. She was "2 seconds away" from shutting down her old phone when she was contacted by the AP.
"This should be the last call on my Blackberry," she said.
While one of Elenberger's colleagues, 39-year-old Janelle Kistner, said the iPhone is on her "wish list," another said she was prepared to wait for the two-year contract on her current phone to expire in August.
"I'm in North Dakota. I guess that's the way it's got to go," said Beth Hagemeister, 37, of the long and agonizing wait for the iPhone. "It has been frustrating."
Libby Hall, 25, owned an iPhone when she moved to Fargo from Minneapolis in 2009 after her husband was accepted at graduate school. She jokes that one of her conditions for agreeing to the move was that she would be able to keep the phone, despite the limited service.
"It makes it a lot harder to convince people from out of state that Fargo really is a modern urban center when we don't even have the iPhone, four years after its introduction," she said.