Apple iPhone 6 circus hits Australia first

Apple stores in Australia were the first in the world to open their doors to the public this morning for release of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

Does a line in excess of 1,400 people outside Apple's flagship Sydney store on Friday morning in anticipation of the release of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus mean that Apple is stronger than ever?

The line that snaked its way down George Street, York Street, and Market Street saw people queuing up with their camping chairs, blankets, beanies, flasks of hot drinks, and whatever else was needed to make their stay along the pavements of Sydney as comfortable as possible. It was by far one of the longest lines, even beating queue numbers when Apple launched its iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c last year.

Given the time zones, Australia is the first country in the world to receive the next-generation iPhones that were announced last Wednesday, several hours ahead of the US.

Apple iPhone 6
The line outside Apple's Sydney flagship store. Image: Aimee Chanthadavong/ZDNet

Some people, such as Christian Ibrahim and Salvatore Gerace, both marketing coordinators for an e-commerce startup venture called Alphatise and the first two to claim spots in line, are there to piggyback off the iPhone launch hype for publicity. Ibrahim and Gerace are giving away the first two iPhone 6 purchases to two lucky Alphatise customers — Edward Tran and Ellen Caruso.

Then there are true fans, such as Jin Sik Kim — with a team of five others — who was third in line, and had been queuing since Sunday. Kim, representing a Korean-based iPhone online community, Asamo, flew from South Korea to be one of the first to buy the iPhone 6.

But this wasn't the first time. "Two years ago, we were here too. It's like a festival for iPhone users. It's really exciting for users," Kim said.

There was also a separate line for those who managed to pre-order the phones on the Apple Store last Friday, and were ready to pick up their purchases.

Apple iPhone 6_2
David Rahimi outside the Apple store after waiting 2.5 hours in the reservation line. Image: Aimee Chanthadavong/ZDNet

David Rahimi was in the number one spot in the reservation line. He flew in from California to pick up his order, which was a first for him.

"At midnight California time last Friday, we went online, made our reservations, and made sure we got the phones that we wanted, and now this morning, we're here. It was for vacation, but we also wanted to be one of the first in the world to get the new iPhones," he said.

He said he is excited about the larger screens and enhancements that Apple has made to the camera and the speed of the phone.

For those who didn't want to join the Apple line and wanted a more luxurious treatment of bean bags, breakfast burritos, and coffee, as well as entertainment from Australian pop group Justice Crew, they joined the line over at Telstra.

Thanasi Kalavritinos was waiting 14 hours in the line at the George Street Telstra store, saying he was ready to buy both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, one for himself and one for his girlfriend.

"I got to the Apple Store and the line was humongous, like 300 people, and I thought there has to be a better way," he said.

Similarly, Jonathan Ung, who travelled from Hong Kong for the launch, found the line outside Apple a "bit too long".

"Telstra was offering Telstra customers to buy the phone outright, so we decided to line up at 8.30pm [AEST] last night, and we're fourth in line," he said.