Standing in the cold and being jeered at just so you can pay some outfit hundreds of pounds, even though they rip you off every year by making some pathetic tiny change to a colour or something. It’s beyond me why anyone goes to football matches.
It has been said, often and loudly, that queuing outside an Apple Store to buy a new iPhone on launch day is silly. Maybe it is. But as silly things go – I mean if you were looking to be right daft, if you yearned for record-breaking silliness – it’s not really up there with voting Lib Dem. It’s pretty mild silliness, really.
Some say that Apple is laughing all the way to the bank. But let’s face it, half the time banks are laughing all the way to themselves. There’s a lot of jollity out there. We all give companies money every day, and at least this way has some theatre to it. Some style.
On launch day I met a guy who said he wouldn’t queue even if they were giving the iPhone 5 away. But he was the owner of a mobile phone shop, and there was a bewildered longing in his voice as he watched hundreds of people walk past his store.
And there were hundreds queuing for the iPhone 5 in Birmingham. Usually when I go through the city at that time of the morning, I’m so three-quarters asleep that I don’t notice how cold and quiet it is. At 05:45 that morning it was alive. Bleedin’ cold, but alive. It was a buzzing, happy, shared experience.
They say folk who buy Apple products have been taken in by the advertising. Yet think about what that would mean if it were true: if Apple got 1,600 people queuing outside just one of its shops purely because it did a nice ad campaign. You’d have to feel pretty good about yourself if you were Apple.
But you don’t have to buy your iPhone from Apple at all. That guy who wouldn’t queue if they were free knows they aren’t free because he sells them too. But only one person was waiting to buy an iPhone from his shop. Where was the marketing magic for him?
You can hype all you want and you might even get phenomenal business out of it, but only once. If you keep getting queues and today’s is sixteen times longer than the last one, you’re doing something better than choosing a nice photo for your posters.
Every working second
The other year, I counted how often I use my iPhone on one day. It was 230 times. So over my two-year contract, I used it 167,900 times. It’s such an integral part of my work that as I have it in my left hand looking up emails, I’ve often found myself reaching into my pocket to get it out and do something else.
Unfortunately, one of the things I did repeatedly was drop the thing. The innards were wobbly and the Home button broken, so I needed a new one. I could have ordered online, but instead I went into town to have a great time with 100 people and come back with something I know will be part of my every working second for the next two years.
So no, I don’t think it’s silly to queue up with a group of strangers; it’s fun. And it’s not silly to buy an iPhone. It’s my business.
William Gallagher is a freelance journalist. Read his thoughts at williamgallagher.blogspot.co.uk