Queuing for days to wait for the new iPhone isn’t weird, it’s just boring
We spoke to some of the die-hard Apple fans camping on Regent Street
The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus will launch tomorrow across the world, promising features which no one really understands and leaving everyone hoping it might not bend like the last one did.
In London’s glitzy Regent Street a group of die-hard fanatics are camped out, on air-beds, sun-loungers and tents. Why?
I was surprised at first to not see one of Apple’s biggest stores swamped by foamy-mouthed nerds waiting for the new phone, but one of the store’s “Geniuses” swiftly directed me to the side-street round the corner from their flagship London shop. The police wouldn’t allow them to set up camp on Regent Street, one camper later told me.
I expected swathes, mobs of hardcore, die-hard iPhone lovers, but nobody really seemed very interested. Maybe interest in Apple products with slightly different new colours and features is waning: there were only around 20 people there.
“They should have put out barriers by now” one told me. But she seemed optimistic, adding we should “expect a lot more later on today” – even though it was already afternoon, less than 24 hours to go before launch.
London Law School student Violetta was first in the queue, and sat on a friend’s air mattress reading a copy of Bleak House to pass the time.
She said: “I’m here for a friend, they started camping yesterday at eight in the morning. I’m covering for him while he’s at work.
“I don’t really care about it to be honest.”
Violetta was just helping out a friend, who was a bit of an Apple nut. She didn’t even know who Tim Cook was.
The group may have been surprisingly apathetic about a phone they were just about to spend over £500 on, but at least they were charitable. Violetta told me she had been there since Thursday morning, but was allowed to avoid the rain in someone’s tent and charge her phone (a relatively old school iPhone 5) in the Apple Store.
The rag tag group of early birds including casuals in deck chairs, but also people with massive tents you would expect to see at squats.
Violetta explained these people aren’t going to all this trouble just to pick up a slick new gadget for themselves. She told me: “They have buyers, and will buy a couple to those who want it. The two over there people do it every single time Apple release something, but they’re so friendly.”
Apple, for their part, have tried to stagger the mad rush that normally accompanies a release of one of their products. People were encouraged to book a time slot and the diehards were promised an 8 AM opening time.
But for whatever reason, Violetta’s friend had chosen not to take the organised route. She said: “It takes longer and you have to order it way in advance. When you order it you go in there and you have to exactly the one you ordered, but when you do it like this you just go in and they hand you a phone.”
She shared her bed with Jack, an Economics third-year at Queen Mary. He’s also standing in for his friend who’s at work during the day:
Jack said: “I had a few days before going back to Uni and thought why not.”
Neither of them are being paid for giving up their time to camp out for the new phone. Jack says: “Yeah, my friend will pay me back, but maybe only in dinners and stuff like that.”
Although tiny, the crowd were a real community and spoke to confused onlookers. A woman passing by, clasping a Pret coffee cup, asked: “Is it going to be a nice treat?” and a homeless man shouted: “What’s going on here? Apple is it?”
Sitting on the street, do people think they’re beggars? “I find reading a book helps,” Jack says. He’s reading a copy of “23 Thing They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism”, as he waits for his friend to get a £539 phone.
No one seemed crazed, or angsty, they mostly seemed a bit bored by having to sit on the street. One guy, Dmitry from Latvia, hadn’t even flown over specially – he was just in London at the right time. All the hype of Apple queues seemed to only exist in the minds of weird tech journos (although yeah I suppose the new iPen is pretty cool).