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Why You Should Never Queue For New Gadgets [Opinion]

Dave Parrack 29-03-2012

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 5 Reasons the New iPad Sucks As you're no doubt aware thanks to the blanket coverage all across the Web, Apple unveiled its latest hardware on March 7. That hardware being "the new iPad," or "iPad (third-generation)," or, as most people... Read More 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

Why You Should Never Queue For New Gadgets [Opinion] Patience

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

Why You Should Never Queue For New Gadgets [Opinion] Sick Day

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

Why You Should Never Queue For New Gadgets [Opinion] Apple Store

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

Why You Should Never Queue For New Gadgets [Opinion] Apple Queue


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?


Why You Should Never Queue For New Gadgets [Opinion] Queue Start Here

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.

Image Credits: Kevan Davis, Josh Smith, William Brawley, Eric Wustenhagen, rq?, Amanda Kelso

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  1. John Williams
    April 2, 2015 at 10:39 pm

    This only applies to queues that you have a choice over whether to join or not. Plenty more of your life is lost in lines at airports and other stuff that you have no control over. Then there are the traffic jams ....

  2. John Williams
    April 2, 2015 at 10:35 pm

    Do Apple Stores do anything special for their queues? Like free WiFi or coffee for example. Just curious.
    Personally I think one should use one's lifetime queueing quota more wisely. Few people realise there is only so much queueing a person can take before they turn into Michael Douglas or start shoutin "We're mad as hell and we're ....& etc"
    Queueing is for once in a lifetime experiences like seeing the Mona Lisa, or going to a band's farewell gig or seeing the Taj Mahal.
    The way to get more quality queueing in your life is to keep your still functional iPad One and use the money you save to travel or buy tickets to unique events. You can also use your old tablet to show fellow travellers in the line all your photos of all the amazing places you have been to - none of which will include an Apple Store.

  3. Ian May
    April 11, 2012 at 7:57 am

    I hate standing in line, and waiting even when I have to - the grocery store - the bank - the bus. I always deliberate before I purchase anything costing more than a few bucks, and most gadgets are usually a few hundred or so. I go look, think, go away, and it's very rare I impulse buy.

    I'm in the Android camp myself, and I've just got a Samsung Galaxy Note. I spent ages in the store asking every question I could think of. (more about the phone network I was moving to, than the product). I wouldn't have queued for one though.

    • Dave Parrack
      April 12, 2012 at 12:05 pm

      I'm with you, Ian. I have wanted a tablet since even before the first iPad was released but I keep waiting for the perfect yet affordable tablet.

      How are you finding the Galaxy Note? It's sold extremely well, but I remain unconvinced.

  4. Susendeep Dutta
    March 30, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    I don't like the idea of standing in a long queue for anything,as it's much painful and time consuming.I always like to wait for 3 months.In this period,I get to know the reviews - site as well as user.Moreover,the cost of that product also get reduced to little extent which is another added bonus along with wide availability.

    • Dave Parrack
      March 30, 2012 at 4:03 pm

      That's a very good point, Susendeep. Waiting just a month or two affords you the luxury of getting more of a feel for a product and likely a better deal on price. That may form the basis for a future article. Thanks for commenting :)

  5. Mark O'Neill
    March 30, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    Queuing for anything is not in my DNA. I would rather order online and have it delivered to my doorstep. Is that being lazy or is that being effective? I'll let you decide that.

    Here in Germany, if you order online, you have a 2 week money-back refund guarantee, no questions asked. So you can order something, check it out for 2 weeks and if you don't want it, send it back for a refund. If you buy the item offline in a high street store, you don't have that 2 week guarantee. So another reason right there for staying at home and ordering online.

    • Dave Parrack
      March 30, 2012 at 4:01 pm

      I'd vote for effective. You're using your time productively.

      That's a good guarantee to have. I wish that was Europe-wide!

  6. Humza Aamir
    March 30, 2012 at 10:48 am

    Wow, the video was a proof of how lame the human race can get. Waiting in line for such a long time, for what is just a gadget is plainly ridiculous. It seemed that the buyers were entering a paradise or divine eternity of some sort ;) . I also don't get the point of being so impatient and crazy for a new product to launch. It is surely going to come in your hands one day, albeit a few weeks later.
    All good things come to those who wait.

    • Dave Parrack
      March 30, 2012 at 11:35 am

      It is ridiculous. I cannot understand the mindset at all. You're right, maybe queuing for an Apple iDevice is one of the essential steps on the path to enlightenment. Apple is a cult, right? ;)

  7. Joe
    March 29, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    I will agree with you about the Ipad releases and waiting in line. I hated the Ipad and dont think its worth any time wasted on it. I do however love lining up for several other stuff. It used to be games way back in the early 2000's. I waited for Halo 2 along with everyone else and it was wonderful being able to play it right away and joining the crowd of people online where all had the same experience playing it as you for that brief moment. There were other games back then that had the same lineup but none were as big as that from what I recall. Besides these days they produce so many copies of games most places never run out and you dont even have to preorder either unless you like that free shwag they give with the preorders. I do have a limit though and that is that I wont wait more than 1 night to purchase a product. The other time I got shafted was when PS3 came out. I was not waiting more than a day to get one and the lines formed about 3 days in advance for release night. They were not available anywhere the entire holiday season, I even tried my luck with black friday and still had no luck getting one. I finally got one on new years eve 2006 only because of a last minute best buy shipment that was not really announced. I still own that same system and glad I got a first generation since only about 3 to 4 months after that they stopped making the first generation systems and lost some abilities that the new ones no longer have. Anyway I dont do it often but when I do its sometimes fun to be a part of something even if its dorky or something really unimportant as this.

    • Dave Parrack
      March 29, 2012 at 9:40 pm

      Thanks for commenting, Joe. And taking the article in the spirit it's intended! I have never queued for a video game, even though I am a gamer. But the online multiplayer must be fun when you're all on there as n00bs. As someone who tends to play the campaign before heading online that wouldn't do it for me.

      You nabbed yourself a 60Gb PS3 with backwards-compatibility? Nice. I picked up an 80Gb one not long after, and have had to keep hold of my PS2 as well. Damn Sony!

  8. Matt Smith
    March 29, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    I agree. The que some people endure seems really strange. I ordered an iPad 3 the day it was announced, but I did so much later in the evening, probably a good 8 hours after the conference. There was no fuss and I received the product the day it was released.

    Some people seem to consider the long waiting lines to be an event which is enjoyable in itself, which is a mindset I just can't understand.

    • Dave Parrack
      March 29, 2012 at 9:37 pm

      Thanks, Matt. It was the iPad 3 queues that got me thinking about this. You had a painless experience getting yours, so why do others do it this way? Attention-seeking, perhaps?

      • Matt Smith
        March 29, 2012 at 10:59 pm

        Some people want to stand there because they want to experience the brand and associated with the brand. It's a status symbol.

        I'm sure that others are just attracted to the carnival atmosphere of it. Hey, if you don't have anything better to do that day, sitting in line for an iPad 3 might not seem like a bad idea. You could end up on the news!

        • Dave Parrack
          March 30, 2012 at 11:33 am

          I touched on that in an earlier draft of this article, to be honest. I toned it down for obvious reasons. And then an Apple fan agrees with me! I can't win ;)