Trust me, I understand why people think it might fun to wait outside Apple store's for hours come weather fair or foul, to get a new iPhone, but today it all got a little silly.
The first person in the world to get hold of an Apple iPhone 6 at the Perth Apple store, Jack Cooksey, unboxed his shiny new smartphone -- only to drop it on the sidewalk.
Getting iPhones has turned into a big business: people pay other people to get them, while others queue to get iPhones to sell on for profit elsewhere. In Singapore, one customer purchasing a 64GB gold model was then seen trying to sell it at the back of the queue for $1,600 -- $452 higher than cost price.
Paris saw yet more evidence of the grey market for the iPhone 6, as 20 to 30 Chechens waited by the Apple store exit, collecting phones they'd paid others to purchase for them. One Chechen admitted to hoping to get hold of 30 iPhones, which will be shipped to Moscow to be sold at double the price. iPhones go on sale in Russia next week, but delays launching the device in China means the new models are already fetching over $1,000 on the grey market there -- people are buying the device to make a few bucks.
Arguments about cutting the queue grew violent at the giant Lakeland mall, where police had to handle the situation. Jason Ablitt queued overnight but was threatened with violence and ended up losing his place in the line, meaning phones sold out by the time he got to the front.. “It was miserable and hostile. Apple had no control of the situation. I would have thought that a store that size would have been more prepared to serve that many people," he said. In London, one man queued for two days to pick up one of the new phones to try to win back his estranged wife.
Huge lines of 300 or more people waited outside Apple's NYC stores overnight. Some waited for nearly three weeks. They had chairs and blankets, ordered pizza and had friends and family visiting to bring essential supplies. Come morning, activity had become frenetic, endless lines snaked around New York's streets, Apple staff were on hand solely to cheer and press pens had been created for media interviews with those lucky enough to use their boring old plastic card to get hold of the world's must-have consumer device. The grey market people were out in force, lobbying those in the queue to pick up an extra handset for them, for a small fee.
To get a sense of how things have changed, just run a search for iPhone 6 on eBay -- these things are already trading for double the price.
Carriers worldwide have already sold out of their initial allocations, and it seems likely many will now have to wait until at least October to get their hands on an iPhone.
"The most important aspect of first weekend iPhone sales are the long lines and the 'record breaking' sales numbers that generate the free press for the company," said BTIG analyst Walter Piecyk.
Apple seems likely to sell 10 million iPhones this weekend, which is great for Cupertino. However, the fact that there's so much money to be made in the grey market trade in iPhones means the lines have lost a little of the innocence they once enjoyed.
It will be interesting to see how people greet the Apple Watch.
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