In the world we live in, anyone and everyone wants to be up to date with the latest technologies. And, for the last decade or so, the must have items have come primarily from one firm. Despite the death of founder Steve Jobs, Apple has continued to come up with products designed to stop consumers in their tracks and fight tooth and nail for the opportunity to get their hands on it, whether it be the newest Macbook or iPad.
The highly anticipated release of the iPhone 5, then, more than met expectations with Apple retailers the world over, with huge queues forming outside Apple stores, and the frontrunners having camped out for a week, before the latest “it” gadget had even been officially released for sale.
Stores in London, Birmingham, Newcastle Upon Tyne and Glasgow all saw queues of upwards of 500 people forming in the 24 hours leading up to the iPhone 5’s launch. Apple’s Regent Street store saw its largest queue to date, with over 1,200 frantic fans eager to be the first to purchase the hugely successful company’s new addition to an impressive technological portfolio.
The iPhone 5 was officially put on sale at 8am in stores around the world last Friday, starting in Australia and working its way west according to time zone. Each buyer was limited to two purchases, with many choosing to keep one phone for themselves and sell the extra on to people towards the end of the queue or friends who actually paid them to collect their new smartphone.
Some queuing consumers took the chance to make a profit from their efforts, with several customers auctioning off their place outside the store for several hundred pounds. In fact, many people who arrived too late to be stationed near the front of the queue were offering around £500 for the opportunity to queue jump, or £800 for an iPhone. As the iPhone 5 retails at between £529 and £699, depending on data storage capabilities, huge profits could be made by anyone willing to dedicate their time to standing in line.
Ethan Martin, a 21 year old marketing assistant from Oxford, turned up in the early hours of Friday morning after asking friends to hold a place for him in the queue. However, he believed that the wait in the rain and cold will be worthwhile in the long run.
He said; “I’m hoping to get an offer of around £900 to wait in the queue and pick a phone up for someone, or I can get £200 from someone I know and they will pay me to buy two phones.”
However, more altruistic people waiting in line saw the opportunity to raise money, not for themselves, but for charity.
IT businessman Ryan Williams, who had been camping outside the Covent Garden store for a week with a friend, was the first person in the UK to get his hands on an iPhone 5. Yet he chose to auction it off for charity rather than keeping it for himself, raising £1,000 for Cancer Research UK.
He said; “It was a crazy thing to queue here for a week but it was really good fun. I would definitely do it again, we’ve raised so much money for Cancer Research UK as well which is absolutely fantastic.
“I was just trying to utilise the fact that there’s so much publicity around iPhone queuing, so if we could build on that and raise money for charity at the same time, we were doing it for a good cause.”
It seems, then, that the hysteria surrounding new releases of the company’s iconic products is still alive and well in the UK, despite the overhanging presence of the double dip recession. The real question is whether Apple can continue their run of recession-beating profits in the long term, or whether a rival company can take their place at the top of the technology charts.
Last month, for the first time, the newly released Samsung Galaxy SIII managed to top iPhone sales in the United States. While the South Korean conglomerate did manage to do something no other mobile technology company has been able to do so far, it must be remembered that their new model was competing against the iPhone 4S – which has been on the market for almost a year now.
With the launch of the iPhone 5, it is predicted that Samsung’s luck will run out. In the first 24 hours of retailing alone, international pre-orders of the handset topped two million, with the high demand meaning that many customers will not receive their order until October.
Should Tim Cook, successor to Steve Jobs, be able to keep Apple on the current track, the future looks extremely bright for this innovative business. And while other companies may get a bite of the apple from time to time, Friday’s turnout does seem to indicate that Apple is still at the top of the tree for technology.
Would you ever consider queuing outside a commercial property for the launch of a new product? Have you managed to pick up an iPhone 5 yet, and if so, is the international buzz justified in your opinion?
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