Thursday, September 19, 2013

Canberrans get first bite of the Apple

The cult of Apple continues to thrive as Canberra became one of the first cities in the world with new iPhones, although even one of the capital's biggest Apple enthusiasts admits the fanfare was a little awkward.

It's the new one. That's it. I don't care about features, it's just a new one. 

Apple fan Tanna, who lined up from 5am

In an over-the-top display of energy for the early hour, more than 50 Apple Store staff came jogging and cheering out of the Canberra Centre store shortly before 8am to rev up the waiting crowd of more than 250 people with chants of "Canberra, Canberra" and high-fives all round.

There was a countdown, then cheering as the doors opened an hour earlier than usual for the eager Canberrans keen to be among the first in the world to own one of the latest iPhone models – the 5s and the 5c.

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At the front of the queue for the first time after three previous launches was 21-year-old Jon Koo, who spent the night out in the cold outside the Canberra Centre from 12.30am with one of his friends.

"I guess I'm an Apple fanboy. I just like the feeling I get on the launch day ... There's a lot of excitement going on, and the anticipation is really high," he said.

Mr Koo and two friends waited as keen customers slowly joined the queue from about 3am onwards, until they were allowed to move inside about 6am, and were given slips with their order from the small army of Apple staff to smooth the process once doors opened.

But even Mr Koo acknowledged that walking into a store lined with clapping Apple staff in blue tshirts with big smiles was a little too much.

"To be honest it was quite awkward," he said.

Waiting a little further back in line was Tanna, who got there about 5am, and was supported by two friends. A fully-fledged member of the cult that is Apple, he was upgrading from the iPhone 5 just because.

"It's the new one. That's it. I don't care about features, it's just a new one. The fingerprint thing seems cool, but, you know, it didn't really matter what they were going to do with it," he said.

Downstairs at the phone company stores, things were a little more sedate, although a queue of about 20 people had formed outside the Telstra store.

Area general manager Chris Taylor said it was a quick turnaround, with only about 10 days between Apple's launch and the actual sale date. Six Telstra stores in the area opened an hour earlier, and Mr Taylor said there were about 40 per cent more staff on than usual.

"It's a bit of a cult. People love every time there's an upgrade with the iPhone, particularly this year as they've got a bit of choice and variety," he said.

"The one thing about iPhone day is this is the one day of the year when people don't mind waiting in long queues."

Mr Taylor said most of the initial interest was in the 5s, the more advanced model. But he said the 5c would pick up sales, especially with regional customers after Telstra lab testing showed the cheaper model  was superior in poor coverage areas and earned the company's regional areas "blue tick".

At last year's launch the Telstra store had sold out by about 9.30am, although stock was replenished regularly.


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