Today I observed something interesting.
I was in Portland, OR this morning wandering around when I saw a line forming in a shopping center that appeared to be closed. As the minutes passed, the line continued to build.
So I decided to investigate. If there’s a line for something before 10am, it must be pretty good. A quick stroll around the corner lead me to the Apple Store. I chuckled, pulled out my not-very-smart phone, and snapped a picture of the patient customers who still had an hour and some change to wait until they got their hands on their Apple devices.
But wait, wasn’t the iPad mini released a few days ago…? There shouldn’t still be lines, right? Then again, I haven’t ever bought a recently released Apple product, so I had no idea how this worked.
I left and came back an hour later to find a longer line of people talking on iPhones and playing with their iPads. By this point, there were several people in blue apple shirts ready to answer my questions.
So what were these people waiting for? The iPad mini, yes, but more people were waiting for the iPhone 5. In fact, the new iPhone was on display at the front of the store and the iPad mini was no where to be seen.
The employee I talked to told me about how Apple only gives each store a limited number of phones per week. Customers get tickets online, and must wait to get the item they so desperately need.
I talked to the people in line to confirm the ratio of iPhone to iPad buyers. Funny thing was, most of the people texting, calling, or tweeting on their iPhone 4’s were there for the new phone. I only talked to one person with an iPhone who was getting the iPad mini.
Keep in mind, I only talked to 8 people. I had better things to do than stand in line for something I’m not interested in buying.
But what’s the draw? Is the new phone that much better? Why do people need the new Apple products, but don’t find the need to stand in line for weeks on end for a new Samsung phone? Or a new Dell computer? Or a new book?
It can’t all be about quality. If you have the iPhone 4, the iPhone 5 is not going to blow your current, completely functional phone out of the water.
I don’t know. I’ve never had an iPhone. So I asked these iPhone updaters why they needed the iPhone 5. “I heard that it can do more than my phone.” ”It looks cooler than this old thing (their iPhone 4).” “Because it’s the best.” ”I just want it.”
All sort of vague answers. From an outsiders point of view, it looks the same, but you can’t charge it with your million and one chargers that you have; it does the same stuff, but the maps are different or something like that; and your current phone doesn’t look broken, so it seems like it won’t be that much worse than the iPhone 5.
My theory/conclusion: Apple has continually blown our minds, so people want to keep being blown away. It’s like an addiction. Apple is a drug that people need to keep taking. They need the best, even if it’s not any different. They need the new because everyone else has it.
I may eventually be sucked into the black hole that is Apple, but never will I ever wait in a line to spend hundreds of dollars on something I already own.
Blog Project for: J456 CREATIVE STRATEGIST; Fall 2012; Post 7