Who pays $900 to be No. 1 in line?

March 11, 2011, 4:53 PM UTC

An iPhone developer who can write it off as a marketing expense, that’s who

Sayed at the top of the iPad 2 queue. Photo: PED

Meet Hazem Sayed, 53, a Kuwait City-born New Yorker who was giving a lot of press interviews Friday morning — and was expecting to give many more before the day was through.

What did he do to draw the attention of the reporters, photographers and TV satellite trucks gathering outside the big glass cube of Apple’s (AAPL) Fifth Avenue retail store?

He paid a 20-year-old college student $900 for a spot ahead of all the other customers lining up to buy the iPad 2 — the second coming of Steve Jobs’ beloved tablet computer.

And what does Sayed hope to get for his $900 investment?

Publicity. First for a free iPhone app called AskLocal that lets you direct queries to a specific geographical area — such as the northeast coast of Japan after it’s been struck by a massive tsunami. And secondly for his company, Zami, which has 10 other apps on the App Store.

Sayed took his place at the head of the line at 9:45 a.m., after its previous occupant had held it for nearly 41 hours. By 11:00 a.m. — six hours before the iPad 2 was scheduled to go on sale — there were 150 people behind him.

At 12:20 there were, by my rough count, 375.

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[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]