The incredible shrinking queue

  • Opinion
  • September 25, 2015
  • Henry Oliver
 The incredible shrinking queue

Loyal readers will know that I was recently 3D scanned and then printed for some unknown, deeply mysterious promotional reason.

While I’m not here to brag, my snarky prediction was, of course, correct; I was indeed unwittingly part of the promotion of the launch of the new iPhone (the 6s and its big brother the 6s Plus). So bright and early this morning I went to the Spark store on Queen Street to collect my 3D me, and sneak a peek at those in the real queue.

The world’s smallest queue looked great in person, and it was cool to see some real versions standing just metres away from their proxies, but the actual queue (the human sized one) was actually pretty small in real life. Perhaps New Zealand’s queue was actually the world’s smallest. There were almost as many PR people and Spark employees as rabid Apple fans.

What’s going on here? We are obviously not over queuing as a whole, as evidenced by the whole global furor over the latest Kanye sneakers. But those were extremely limited and more than quadrupled their value upon purchase. It makes complete sense to queue for scarcity. If you want to buy something where demand far outweighs supply, prove how much you want it with your absurd dedication.

But an iPhone? A mass produced consumer item produced by the million? There used to be a time when groundbreaking phones were released globally on the same day, and New Zealanders ran to be the world’s first purchaser at 12:01. But that kind of excitement seems to be slowly dying. Driving up Queen Street, there seemed to be a small queue outside every cellphone retailer in the city, all with only ten to fifteen people in them.

“There are fears Microsoft will dominate the Internet!”

In Muslim nations, people who have made a pilgrimage to Mecca get the honorific title ‘Hajji’, but do we really care who buys one of the world’s most ubiquitous products just a few hours earlier hours than everyone else?

I imagine those that queued this morning bought their phones, felt that familiar rush of consumerism, but little more. They’ll be the first people at their work/school/cafe to have it, but they won’t be the first in the world. They won't be on CNN. 

I assume their mornings were filled with this conversation:

“What did you do this morning?”

“Queued up and bought the new iPhone”

“Oh, cool. Is it good?”

“Yeah, and it’s rose gold!”

“Oh, nice.”

So what about the phone? Well, I couldn’t tell you because I didn’t buy one. (Please send review phone to: Henry Oliver c/o Idealog, 19 Lyon Ave, Mt Albert, Auckland). But I’m guessing it’s pretty good. Apple products usually are, which is annoying given the cultish behaviour they inspire. They are very good at making smartphones. A few people will even queue for them.

This story originally featured on Idealog

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