iPhone 5 Lines Begin, But Not Everyone is There for a Phone

Continuing a trend dating back to the first iPhone, customers have begun lining up days early outside of high profile Apple Retail Stores for the launch of the iPhone 5. According to Fortune Tech, however, not all of the early arrivals are eager customers; many are there for promotional purposes, hoping to take advantage of the media attention that an iPhone launch generates.

In the popular imagination -- and in Samsung TV ads -- the people willing to wait in line for days to buy the newest Apple gewgaw are hopeless fanboys and fangirls who need to get a life.

That attitude is so 2007.

Today, occupying a space near enough to the front of an iPhone queue to draw media attention is a commodity with tangible commercial value.

iPhone 5 Lines in New York CityThe first in line at the Fifth Avenue Appe Store in New York City (image via Fortune Tech).

Apple’s flagship Fifth Avenue store in New York City has drawn a number of commercially-focused individuals to its queue. The first two people in line are promoting a social media startup, numbers three, four, and five are being sponsored by gadget “recommerce” company Gazelle, and numbers six and seven are musicians promoting their music.

iPhone 5 UK Line Cancer Research AuctionWilliams and King lined up in London
for Cancer Research UK (image via The BBC).

Not everyone is lined up for purely self-serving economic reasons. Two men in line at the Covent Garden Apple Store in London are raising money for cancer research. Ryan Williams and Peter King of Kent will auction off the phones they purchase and donate the proceeds to Cancer Research UK.

Many eager customers will begin to line up shortly to purchase phones for themselves, but the often analyzed “free publicity” that Apple generates courtesy of intense media coverage has created viable economic opportunities for individuals and companies.

We only hope that this practice does not get out of hand, and that customers waiting for a future iPhone won’t be subjected to dancing mascots and slogan-shouting megaphones.

The iPhone 5 will launch Friday, September 21 at 8:00 a.m. local time in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong, with additional countries receiving the phone a week later on September 28.