Line up for an iPhone? Are you serious?

So we have answers. The iPhone is coming to Oz, it's 3G, it's cheaper, and it's available via multiple carriers.
Written by Jude Willis, Contributor

So we have answers. The iPhone is coming to Oz, it's 3G, it's cheaper, and it's available via multiple carriers.


The Apple Store in Sydney

But one very important question remains: are Australians prepared to line up for one?

Very few technology products attract enough hype to warrant queues. The midnight launch of the much-hyped PlayStation 3 had some reasonable crowds last year, but the event drew nothing of the naked panic that similar launches in Japan and the United States offer.

That said; Apple mania defies routine obsession. You don't even need a new product to attract a crowd, just the threat of one. In the US, lines have spontaneously formed in front of Apple stores for absolutely no reason. It requires just two alpha geeks to line up, and their pale brethren will soon emerge, convinced that by joining the herd they will soon, finally, obtain the product that defines them as an individual.

It's akin to the sociological retardation that compels clubbers to line up in front of one discotheque when there are quite clearly plenty of other establishments happy to take their money. Clearly, coolness is directly proportional to one's faith in the herd.

I won't be surprised if a few die-hard techies line up on George St, Sydney when Apple opens its flagship store next week — even if all the products inside it can already be bought from the Next Byte store four blocks away.

But lines in front of an Optus 'yes' store or a Vodafone store? The Optus 'yes' stores are cool, sure, the zoo animal theme is cute, and Vodafone stores are cool purely by virtue of their red-ness. (Red is cool, Richard Branson could vouch for that.)

But are they cool enough to queue in front of?

I would hope that, despite the lessons of my limited clubbing experience, we Australians differ to our American cousins. Australians, being more rational (read: significantly more apathetic), would surely not lower ourselves to line up for the release of a mobile phone.

Optus is obviously expecting high demand and has announced pre-orders for the 3G model — asking customers for a $100 refundable deposit to get ahead of the queue.

I say ahead of the queue, but still in it. This $100 deposit gets the customer an iPhone a whopping two hours before the rest of the customers that might otherwise be lining up.

To put that in perspective — it's a $100 deposit, to get your hands on a mobile phone two hours earlier than your friends. Meanwhile, several thousand Aussies already have an iPhone — the black-market imported 2G, hacked variety.

Hardly sounds like you'd be a "first mover", an "early adopter", a "cutting edge" cat. Half a million Chinese people already have one. Queuing up for a 3G iPhone will show nothing of the dedication it takes to hack and re-hack a 2G one with every new firmware update.

And all of this assumes of course, that our local carriers get a decent amount of the new iPhone by July. Apple is ambitiously looking to ship some 10 million iPhones in 2008, and Australia is one of 22 nations getting the 3G model on 11 July, with a further 48 countries following later in the year.

Optus's pre-registration offer includes this disclaimer: "Stock limits apply. This does not guarantee you a phone."

What's that? No guarantee? But what if I miss out? What if that annoying guy in HR gets one before me?

Guess I'll be seeing you in line then.

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