Sometimes you just can't escape lining up. The portaloo at the festival, the cashier at the supermarket, the coolest new bar. But no-one really likes doing it, so it is fairly hard to fathom why anyone would do it for a new phone. Plenty do, of course (even though they don't actually know why, as this illuminating clip from Casey Neistat shows). And the companies selling them go to great lengths to butter these strange tech fiends up and limit 'queue fatigue', as evidenced by Vodafone and Telecom's festivities for the launch of the new iPhones.
Vodafone's queue celebrations started at 8am yesterday and featured an array of games and activities throughout the day. It assigned an area of the plaza out the front of the Vodafone head office for 20 VIP tents. 18 of them were for the first people to arrive and start queuing, and two were won as ‘wildcards’ by customers standing further back in the queue throughout the day. The tents included a full butler service, Vodafone onesie and a survival kit. VIPs had a bell to ring for attention throughout the day, and full access to a VIP lounge hosted inside the Vodafone building. At around 4pm there were half dozen people in the queue and somewhere between 100-150 people were in line at the peak.
After 6pm, Jay Reeve and Kim Crossman MC’ed, the Vodafone Warriors manned the BBQ, and there were guest appearances from Sir Peter Leitch, Valerie Adams, Blair Tuke and John Toogood. Titanium performed at 9pm, followed by the Jupiter Project at 10pm. And the new iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c started selling at 12.01am.
UPDATE: Vodafone released a video of proceedings.
Over in the Telecom corner, it maintained the 'little bit of luxury' theme with bean bags, recharging stations, free WiFi, video games, giant games, mini putt, quizzes, comedy and food and beveage options. And Lydia Ko also turned up to join the fans at Telecom Place in Auckland.
Given she’s got the big global management agencies on her case at the moment now she’s turned pro, Telecom's Holly Wilkinson says it was nice that her first promotional appearance was with a Kiwi company—"and even more special given she’s a massive technology fan herself".
Ko, a Telecom customer and the new owner of a gleaming iPhone 5s (space grey), personally sold the first iPhone 5s to Aucklander, Dion Zhang, who queued from mid-afternoon on Thursday.
Ko treated customers to an informal Q&A session on all things technology, her love of Apple and her recent YouTube announcement with Israel Dagg. She also gave a number of customers a run for their money in friendly games of interactive golf and indoor putting.
Telecom Retail chief executive, Chris Quin said in a release that the midnight queuing experience was a yearly highlight for Telecom and he was especially excited to have Ko join customers there on the night. He says the 4G network launch in parts of New Zealand on November 12, the fast growth of its national WiFi network and the improved roaming options for Kiwis taking on the world, means "there has never been a better time to be a Telecom smartphone customer. And we have more exciting things to announce in the next few months."
Wellington and Christchurch customers were also a part of the Telecom midnight launch with stores open throughout the night on Willis Street and in Riccarton Mall. Wilkinson says there were around 85 official queuers in Auckland, and around 50 queuers each in Wellington and Christchurch, with the events themselves attracting around 350-400 odd people (spectators and participants etc).
Both telcos were asked for early sales figures, but neither would provide them because they're commercially sensitive.
Vodafone's Brad Pogson says there was "a fantastic turn out and we’re expecting a busy long weekend at our retail outlets and online too".
- Want one? Here are the plans, courtesy of The NBR.