Okay, I’ll admit to considering lining up with the hoi polloi on July 11th to gaze with admiring eyes upon Apple’s first official iPhone upgrade before plunking down hard-earned dollars for a gee-whiz product the company now markets as “Twice the memory. Half the price,” with an asterisk connoting that sales start at $199.
The excitement had been building as early as December when, on my birthday, dear-old Dad and Mom kicked in a chunk of change toward this eventual purchase. I was ready to go out and buy an iPhone the next morning until a few friends imparted some sage advice: Hold tight until they work out the kinks with a next-generation release.
So I waited patiently for another seven months before that day finally arrived. What then transpired was an eye-opening enough experience that it compelled me to write this blog entry, and I still haven’t yet made a purchase.
Known as the 3G, ostensibly because of its triple-play killer application of cell phone, iPod and Internet access, this sleek product featuring touch-screen technology once again has everyone talking – and buying. One million 3Gs sold that opening weekend, whereas
Apple CEO Steve Jobs pointed out in news reports that “it took 74 days to sell the first one million original iPhones,” prompting one critic to snarl about an unfair comparison given that the new version now sells in 21 countries instead of just one.
But be that as it may, an industry analyst recently noted that sales are expected to exceed everyone’s forecasts before promptly lowering his financial rating and earnings estimate on competitor Research In Motion, maker of the Blackberry, aka “Crackberry,” to reflect a greater threat from Apple than anticipated. He added that any attempt to duplicate the 3G model would “have no hope of matching the secret sauce of the iPhone: the tight integration of hardware and software that creates a unique user experience.”
That could be the case, even despite a few widely reported connection glitches for new products sold exclusively in Apple and AT&T Stores (the former Ma Bell serving as the sole cell phone partner). This is probably the most exciting gadget to hit the market in years, perhaps decades.
Still, I was left scratching my head after learning there’d be a four hour wait at the Apple Store in the Glendale Galleria in suburban Los Angeles, the closest store to my home. It was shocking to see a line stretching through the mall and knowing people are willing to cue up for that length of time when they could just as well return any other day to buy the 3G. It reminded me of stories about people in the former Soviet Union cueing up for anything from food to blue jeans with nary a complaint.
Why the hurry? To be the first on one’s block to boast having one of these gizmos? Has our keeping-up-with-the-Joneses culture of conspicuous consumption become so crass that people can’t figure out a better use of their time? What I witnessed speaks volumes about how perverse I believe our society has become.
As for me, I bolted to my car upon hearing news of the wait and plan on returning when I’m not too busy to care how soon I own one of these products.