Friday, September 21, 2012

The iPhone Craze

My wife says to me at lunch yesterday, that there are already people in line at stores waiting to buy the iPhone 5 -- "tomorrow!"  Many people have wondered just what it is that makes people stand in line that much in advance.  I am among those people wondering that.  However, all of my life I have seen this phenomenon.

I first noticed this in 1980.  In 1977, movie making and watching (and the business of films) changed forever with the introduction of what I thought sounded like a dumb film.  Star Wars.  20th Century Fox didn't know what they had, so they signed away the rights to everything except the film.  It ended up being the highest grossing film of all time (in adjusted value), still, but Lucas made much more money on the merchandising.  Then, in 1980, the long-awaited sequel came out.  People camped out in front of the movie theaters to be the first to see it.  How many other films, or film series, have generated lines of people around the globe waiting to get their eyes on it?  How about a day in advance of the showing?

Similarly, in 2007 the iPhone came out.  Think about this.  That's right, 5 years ago, there was no such thing as an iPhone.  5 years ago Apple was called "Apple Computer, Inc." and they made computers, that's it - now look at their revenue, mostly mobile devices.  5 years ago, everyone had a cell phone, the market was pretty saturated, and who were the market leaders?  Nokia, Samsung, Motorola, RIM (Blackberry).  And yet, look at today - who even holds a candle to the iPhone market share of 65%?  RIM is almost out of business, but all others make up 35% combined.  Apple alone, 65%.  And that's growing, still growing, up over 2% from previous quarter.  Let that sink in a moment.

Almost overnight, cell phones were turned upon their proverbial heads, and the industry changed forever.  And, have you ever heard of a cell phone, any cell phone of any type besides iPhone, that people stand in line for days for?  Hours maybe - maybe in some stores for the Galaxy SIII.  But globally, in all stores?  Only the iPhone.  Love it or hate it, you have to admit it is a phenomenon.

I have said before that there really isn't all that much new in the iPhone 5.  And yet, people are standing in line a day before its release - again.  And is it really any wonder?  After playing with a lot of other devices in stores and bought by friends, there is not another device I would use except iOS-based ones (aka Apple).  It's kind of like you get a car with automatic headlights, power windows, power seats, heated and cooled seats, you know, all the amenities.  Then, you get The Thing - the VW Thing from the 70's, butt ugly, and absolutely no amenities on it.  You might have The Thing around for a fun fling, but as your primary means of transportation on a daily, year-round bases?

So is it any wonder, really, that people pay homage to a cultural icon?  That their hearts beat faster and their pupils contract whenever they think about the upcoming release date?  That they open up their wallets with money they don't quite have (oh, I can delay that credit card payment one month just to get this thing)?

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