Unless you have been living under a rock for several weeks you’ll know the iPad 3 is now in the wild. I’m not a particularly big fan of the latest iteration, which sees Apple again relying on one killer feature (the Retina Display) to tempt people in. However, enough people were impressed by “the new iPad” that there were long queues outside Apple Stores around the world once again.
I personally cannot fathom the mindset of people who queue for the latest gadget on launch day. I’ve tried, I really have, but I think it’s a bizarre choice to queue up for hours or even days, through all weathers, purely in order to purchase a next-gen device in person.
This applies to more than just Apple products, but for some reason few people queue for Samsung or Sony products in quite the same way.
There Is No Need To Queue
Let’s not bury the lede here. There is absolutely no need to ever queue for a new gadget on day one. Even if you’re the most-impatient person in the world, the Internet means queuing (in person rather than virtually) is unnecessary.
Using Apple as the best example, a new product is announced, be it the latest iPhone, iPad, or Mac. You have several choices at this point. Assuming you want to buy one, you can pre-order online, with the product in question being delivered to your home as soon as it’s available, or you can go to an Apple Store on launch day and take your chances along with the rest of those hopeful of securing one.
Or, and this will come as a shock to some, you can wait. You don’t have to buy the latest gadget on the block immediately. Wait a few weeks and the supply lines will catch up with demand, and you’ll then be able to either order online or wander into any store and purchase your product of choice without the need to wait or queue. This has to be preferable.
Loss Of Productivity
I wonder how many people took the day (or even the whole week) off in order to queue for their iPad 3? You have to assume it’s a significant proportion. Judging by how the people who populate these launch events look, most either have jobs (probably good ones if they can afford to buy Apple) or are full-time students. Did they call in sick or ditch college in order to attend? If so I hate to think of the productivity lost each and every time Apple launches another product. Which is, you have to admit, quite often.
Then again I’m a self-confessed Angry Birds addict, and I suspect more days have been lost to that particular casual mobile game than have been lost to Apple launch events. Still, it’s not good to see people queuing needlessly when they could be doing something much more constructive with their time. Like reading MakeUseOf.
Apple Wins, We All Lose
People who are on the inside of the cult of Apple reject its existence. They will tell you there is no such thing. But it’s obvious to all those of us on the outside looking in that it does. And the faith which some people have in Apple borders on religious zealotry. This is at its height in the weeks between a new product being announced and it making it onto the shelves of Apple Stores worldwide.
Queuing for days and nights in front of an Apple Store only adds to the whole cult of Apple. It gives the company an undeserved veneer of invulnerability, as if they and their products have been sent to us from high above. And it gives the company free advertising, as the queues are shown on the nightly news.
This is all good for Apple, obviously, but not so good for the average consumer, as Apple are highly unlikely to lower prices all the while they have fans as fervent as this. It’s also not good even for committed Apple fans, who are merely adding to the considerable power already wielded by Cupertino.
The more people a company can rely on to buy its products through thick and thin, the less effort they will put into the development of these products.
If you have watched the video above, which shows iPad 3 launch day in Sydney, Australia, and don’t think the behavior on display is in any way strange, then your idea of what’s normal differs from mine. It’s not normal to walk into a store with a suitcase (needed for the days spent camping out front), to cheer that you’re one of the first in, and to be applauded by the staff of said store as if you have just saved a child from drowning.
There Is More To Life
Surely there is more to life than standing (or sitting, or lying) in line for an iPad, the latest Android smartphones, or version of Windows. Or any other piece of consumer technology for that matter. Queuing is an inevitable and unavoidable part of life, but there’s a vast difference between spending 10 minutes queuing to buy food or to pay a bill, and spending three days queuing to buy a luxury item that many want but few need.
I assume people who queue to be one of the first to buy the latest iDevice or a new games console want to be a part of something. An event. A happening. Which implies they have something essential missing from their lives. We all have hobbies that others find bizarre, but can queuing for a new piece of hardware really be considered a special interest?
I don’t hate people who queue up for the latest gadgets. Far from it. But I do regard them as a little strange, and I don’t understand their fascination with having to be the first to own the gadget du jour. If we can help them to stop wasting any more hours of their life doing something totally and utterly without merit then that would surely be a good thing for them and society as a whole.
There is no reason to queue like some of the most-fervent fans of specific companies do. If we all adopted a similar outlook on life as these individuals – a need to be fast, first, and full of it – then nothing of note would ever get done. Thankfully most of the world is a little more grounded than the small minority who take part in these celebrations of consumer avarice.
As always the floor is now yours. Please feel free to share your opinions on those who queue for the latest gadgets, whether you agree with my position on the phenomenon or not.