It's no secret that Apple has been turning its launches into big events ever since the dawn of the first iPhone. The predictable queues of eager fanboys snaking past London’s flagship stores on launch days are testament to that. Not to mention the bunch of hyperactive Apple employees who burst out of the stores in a way that suggests either too much sugar, or way too much liquor. Everyone (or so it would seem) has Apple fever. But what’s it like on the front line? And why should you join it?
While common sense tells you to pre-order your new goods online, there’s a very good reason thousands of people feel compelled to give up a day – and sometimes night – come rain or shine, to be kettled in by metal railings like a bunch of social miscreants while being pointed and sneered at by passersby. It’s not just about being among the first people in the world to prod its wondrous delights – it’s the general atmosphere, the sheer buzz and genuine excitement of being a part of Apple history and surviving a 14+ hour queue to tell the tale. Hell for some, hugely gratifying for others.
We've been there, done that – we even have the t-shirt, having spent almost 14 hours in the queue for the iPad 2 at Apple's Covent Garden store (remember?). While initial thoughts conjured up thoughts of being bludgeoned to death with a spiked bat instead, it actually turned out to be a pretty awesome day. Sure, we were deliriously tired by the time we handed over our credit card, but that was part of the fun. We made some great friends, had a laugh along the way and even got our faces on telly.
Arriving early is paramount for a good spot – just ask Rob Shoesmith, the first person in the iPhone 5 queue. And if you can ignore the bewildered looks from passers-by and you bring a chair, it’s all systems go.
There's a real sense of community as you're all herded together like cattle, with stockpiles of food, portable chargers, entertainment and pillows – which in itself creates a real buzz for the launch event, with each Apple fanatic hyping up the Apple evangelism. Sure, your non-geek friends will think you're lame, but amongst geeks and tech lovers alike, you'll be hailed a hero.
One thing's certain – the queues demonstrate the world's insane love for the iPhone and also serve as a visual reminder of our thirst for the latest, most exciting technology. So go on, embrace the madness and make sure you queue for your new and shiny iPhone 5. And don't forget to brag. Otherwise, what would have been the point of queueing?