As expected, the Apple loyal began gathering outside stores to purchase the new iPhone 5. The real question is, why? This is a device that will likely be upstaged by any number of devices in coming months.
Even if you are a brand loyalist, you know the device will be sold for at least the next year before it is upstaged by a newer Apple product. In addition, the device can be pre-ordered online or purchased not only from Apple, but a plethora of wireless carriers.
So, what compels consumers to mass outside retail stores to purchase an electronic device?
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Unlike Black Friday, consumers will not benefit from a lower than normal price. Unlike an artistic performance, there is no unique experience. Unlike an Enzo Ferrari, there are not a limited number of products available. Unlike a Sotheby's auction, these are not priceless treasures. And unlike classic movies from Disney, these are not available for a limited engagement. So why in the world are some consumers so fanatic about the release of a new electronic device when we live in a connected society filled with electronic devices?
Unfortunately, this says more about our society than the products or companies reflected by the phenomena, and I donít limit this to just Apple. In a world where global weather, energy, food, and water all threaten the fabric of our society and future existence, this demonstrates a misplaced value on objects. Just image what could be accomplished if the much energy, time, and resources could be dedicated to something better.
Great post, Jim. I think you make a lot of really good points (and ask a lot of really great questions). The short answer is that people just can't wait to get their hands on the phone, but as you point out, that's not really it.
I'm still processing the experience I had standing outside of the Yerba Buena Center while the iPhone 5 launch was going on. It was something of a circus type atmosphere. I'd say there were close to 200 people out there. A lot of them were journalists doing their job covering the launch. But many were just regular folks who came by to be part of the cultural happening. I kept thinking, "Really, it's just a phone, and almost surely it is not THAT different from the current one." Explaining the spell that Apple product launches casts is, I'm afraid, beyond me.
It's a cult thing, the Apple company is not just like any other electronic manufacturing company like Samsung,HP,Intel, etc. It(S.Jobs) has worked hard over many decades to keep it exclusive and niche though that distinction is blurring rapidly. With competitors breathing down their necks in looks and performance this behaviour will subside over the years but I am afraid will not completely go away. Because, as I said it's a cult thing.
I don't mind telling my kids that I waited in lines for many things, such as rock concerts and amusement park rides, but I will never say I waited in line for a phone. If I really want one, I can wait a week when I can easily purchase it without the line. :)
I won't buy an iPhone 5, however I did invest in Apple stock a few weeks ago, so let the lines begin. Thank you to all of the Apple fanboys that stand in line today to buy the iPhone 5, my portfolio is grateful.
Like others have said, it's a cult. It's the type of lemming behavior you expect from cult members.
Did you check out how many articles EE Times has, gushing in one way or another over the iPhone5? And what do you call that?
Apple is laughing all the way to the bank, of course. You can't blame them.
My 16-year-old son had hungrily anticipated the iPhone 5 for months. He relishes his electronic devices (iPad, Xbox, now the phone), and he dismisses any questions about standing in line to buy one on opening day with, "because it is the Most Important Event in the World, that's why!"
He's 16. Yes, he's immature. But what this exposes in him is not-too-far beneath the surface in all of us. Our rational selves rest precariously upon a bedrock of irrational impulses, and no one should ever doubt which of the two forces is more powerful. So while I laugh at those waiting in line, I can't get too high-&-mighty about it. Some of my tastes would look pretty foolish to the world, too, if put on such open display.
When I was 16, I stood in line for 4 hours for the opening night of Return of the Jedi. Equally as pathetic, in hindsight, but I wouldn't trade that experience for anything. It's fun. People are doing this because it's an event, an experience. As engineers we should be so lucky that a product we worked on has this kind of appeal.
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