My Last Apple iPhone Launch

apple iphone 5s launch lines waiting gold phone silver anger

Apple fanboy does not even seem that fitting. I should be more than that. I believe I have just about every Apple product currently out. I’ve been a huge fan for years. I’ve attended many iPhone launches. But today I attended my last.

Up at 5:00 AM, the excitement was building. Many don’t understand why anyone would stand in line for an Apple product. I think it’s like Christmas for adults. The marketing, advertising, the keynote…it all builds up the excitement. I went with my wife Karla and our friend Jen. We got to the mall shortly before 6:00 AM.

We were in a good position. We were about 10th in line. I breathed a sigh of relief. Our chances of getting the phones we wanted were golden.

Or so it seemed.

Karla and Jen wanted gold and I was on the fence, leaning more towards gray but also open to gold. Shortly after 6:00 AM one of the Apple employees came out and thanked us all for showing up. I think her name was Marge. She quickly dovetailed into a more serious speech letting us know of the “very limited availability” of the iPhone 5s. Because of the “overwhelming demand” the stock was “extremely limited”.


According to my watch, the iPhone 5s had not yet gone on sale in the U.S. No stores were open, and the 5s had not been available for pre-sale or reserving. So not one had been sold yet. But the dire speech kept going back to this incredible demand that had seemingly transpired.

We eyed each other and sipped our coffees and tried to remain as enthusiastic as we could while being at the local mall before sunrise.

Scanning the line I could see there was now close to 50 more people filing in. Some had worried looks. Some were on the phone conveying the “overwhelming demand” news. But most were just hanging out hoping for the best.

About an hour later Marge came back and wanted us all to get excited and start clapping. I mustered up the energy even thought I now know that this women had been designated the bearer of bad news.

“How’s everyone doing this morning?”

That depends on what you are about to say Marge.

“I just wanted to give everyone an update”

OK it’s been an hour, time for some good news.

“We wanted to let everyone know that we have no iPhone 5s gold or silver phones in stock today”

Excuse me?

It’s now about 7:15 AM. The store opens at 8:00 AM. We’ve been here since just before 6:00 AM. Now you tell us the phone we want is not even in stock?

“Due to overwhelming demand…”

Seriously Marge, you say that again you’ll be wearing a hazelnut coffee helmet.

“..we are out of stock”

Store still not open. Watch still says none have been sold.

It was not true that they had no gold phones. They actually had 3. The people at the front of the line, the first 3, got them. I turned around and saw dozens of people looking very let down. Christmas for adults had turned into Christmas for kids. Sad, disappointed kids. Kids who did not get that one toy that they so desperately wanted.

Karla and Jen said very little. There was some mild PG-13 swearing. Some guy near us kept eating a Boston creme donut. I kept thinking, how can you eat at a time like this? There was quietness. There was disappointment.

I was disappointed too. But then it turned to mild anger.

This is a yearly tradition. You set the alarm, get up early and most of the time if you get in line soon enough, you get what you want. But 3 gold phones did not even begin to cover the huge line that had been forming.

As I jumped on the web, I read that carrier stores like Verizon and AT&T actually did not get any gold phones. We checked over at Best Buy and Walmart. Nothing. Gold was nowhere to be found. Since we were at the only Apple Store in the state and carriers/stores seemingly did not have what we wanted, it seemed like a pretty crappy Christmas for adults just about everywhere.

Apple sent out a release within the hour that outlined how amazed they were by the “incredible demand” and some phones are “already out of stock”.

Yes the three gold phones in the state were purchased by three people.

My mind filled with questions. Why did they not level with us about the amount when we first arrived? Why were we kept in the dark for nearly an hour? Why with a week of global marketing were there only 3 chances for gold? Why is that Boston creme guy now staring directly at me? If there was such a dramatic shortage, why was the silver and gold iPhone 5s launch not delayed for a few weeks?

The store was opening. All the chipper blue shirt employees came streaming out and were cheering. Marge, bearer of bad news all morning, was getting everyone in the line to cheer and chant. She was whipping into a frenzy a group of clearly disillusioned Apple fans. Somewhere from the back of the line a large tomato whizzed over everyone’s heads and splatted right onto the Apple Store sign.

OK I made that part up. But that would have been a nice visual to film in slow motion. With a new gold iPhone 5s.

I am sure next year’s Apple launch will have enough phones. I am sure there will be an even larger line for the iPhone 6. The only difference will be that I won’t be in that line. I won’t be setting my alarm for 5:00 AM and chugging coffee and excitedly joining a group to purchase a little bit of magic.

This year’s Christmas for adults had Apple sliding down the chimney and landing with a coal-laced thud. Granted every year is a gamble. You get there and you hope for the best. But this year the odds were not stacked in our favor, even before our alarms went off.

As I was leaving, at the very end of the line, was a young girl about 20 years old. She was not so obsessive, or perhaps did not know the drill, to show up at the crack of dawn. Maybe she was dismayed at being on the tail end of a huge line. I bet she wanted a gold phone. I sorta felt bad for her. But I noticed she was smiling. She seemingly was just was having fun being there and enjoying the whole event.

I looked back and saw Marge, who seemed more excited then earlier, as she gleefully greeted everyone who entered the store with a firm handshake. I looked down at my new gray iPhone 5s. It looked sleek and beautiful and was super fast. I was happy with my purchase.

I began thinking that maybe I should relax a little and just go with the flow. Maybe just appreciate what I have instead of what was not available. Maybe just enjoy the process. Maybe go treat myself to a Boston creme donut.

Maybe I will see you next year.