With just one day to go until the iPhone 5 hits stores, the usual crowds have started forming outside Apple stores across the world, including in Australia where dozens of hopeful customers have already lined up for several hours.
But at the tech giant’s flagship George Street store in Sydney, the first eight spots in the queue have been taken up for a few days already by a group of employees at MobilePhoneFinder, as part of a marketing stunt for the launch of their site.
Fred Schebesta, the head of CreditCardFinder and its subsidiary MobilePhoneFinder, and occasional SmartCompany blogger, said the iPhone launch came at a decent time to launch the company. Staff are decked out in company branding, and have been waiting since at least Tuesday.
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“We have different divisions in our company, and they’re at the beginning in start-up mode. We needed something to kick off the company, a stunt to get things started.”
“It’s turned into quite an orchestration actually, it’s pretty intense.”
Staff are being provided with food three times a day, while Apple is allowing the crew to charge their phones and laptops in-store.
Todd Foot, the employee at the front of the line, said the whole experience is “intense”. He’s likely to be the first person in the world to buy the iPhone 5, as Australia will be the first country to launch the device.
“We’re all about helping the users, and we figured we’d be able to save some money for them by queuing up.”
The company is giving away two iPhones as part of a competition and user survey. Given the success of their project, both Foot and Schebesta say they’ll definitely consider trying the same stunt again at future launches.
“I think that’s certainly a possibility. It ties in really well with our company and how we compare phones and so on.”
But the hype isn’t just building in Sydney. Across the world, lines are already forming in London, New York and other major cities. Some customers have been waiting for as long as a week.
The lines are typical of Apple launches, with hundreds of customers eager to get their hands on the tech giant’s latest products. But they inevitably sell out – which is why the country’s major telcos have already provided updates about store launches on Friday.
Optus released a statement yesterday confirming its stores would be opening from 8am tomorrow, with existing customers who pre-ordered the device able to skip lines and access priority pick-up.
Extra tech staff will also be on board to help with the handsets, and customers will be given free food and drinks as well.
Telstra has also confirmed it will open 100 stores early tomorrow morning in anticipation of the high demand. These include the flagship stores in the capital cities.
Telstra stores usually attract huge crowds during iPhone launches and are likely to receive even more attention, given its only one of two networks offering 4G connectivity straight away.
So far, Vodafone hasn’t confirmed it will be opening stores early, but based on previous years an early launch could be expected. However, analysts have warned Vodafone is on the back foot with its iPhone 5 launch as it won’t have access to 4G connectivity until next year.
Meanwhile, Apple has prepared for the launch by releasing the latest version of iOS – users are able to download the update already.