Otto Wiskerchen (far left), Tim Nguyen (second from left) and Jane Devine (far right) were the first three people in line for the iPhone 5S launch. Alex Lee (second from right) was a bit further behind and said he’s waited a combined 250 hours for Apple products.

Crazy may be the best word to describe the diehard fans who sit for hours in line for a consumer product, whether it be electronics, shoes or anything else with a much-anticipated launch date. These people camp out in droves, skipping work and school to get their hands on that prized possession.

There were about 50 or so people lined up for the iPhone 5S and 5C launch 14 hours before doors opened.

But as I dropped by the University Village Apple Store this evening, more than 12 hours before Friday’s iPhone 5S and 5C launch, I found that it’s not all about the product itself. Sure, among the 50 or so that had already lined up in their foldable chairs, some were there solely to nab the new iPhone and sell it immediately for profit online.

Yet Alex Lee, who said he’s waited in various Apple launch lines for a combined 250 hours, explained to me that it’s much more than just the new iPhone or iPad.

“It very much complements the culture of Apple,” said Lee, a Canadian who’s made headlines for waiting in lines. “In the Apple Stores, it’s all about teamwork, being jazzed up about something and working toward a common goal. I feel like we do that here.

“We’re excited about the same product,” he continued. “We come from all different walks of life, but we have one thing in common.”

Bryan Gula, a sophomore studying computer science at the University of Washington, echoed those sentiments. Gula has waited in line for every single iPhone launch, all the way back to the very first iPhone in 2007 when he stood in line with his mother as a 15-year-old.

Otto Wiskerchen has an Apple logo wrapped in razor wire that appeared on the cover of a 1997 Wired magazine issue tattooed on his right forearm.

“This is an event,” he said. “We got a tent, we got pillows. It’s a big community event and everyone is pumped.”

There were about 50 or so people waiting in line 14 hours before Friday’s 8 a.m. launch. While the iPhone 5S and 5C unveiling was underwhelming compared to past Apple product announcements, these people were still here, taking time away from work to dedicate their minutes, hours and days to Apple.

Tim Nguyen was first in line, arriving at 7 a.m. on Thursday. In the third slot behind him was a familiar face: Otto Wiskerchen, a 42-year-old who we’ve seen in these very same lines before.

Wiskerchen is the epitome of an Apple diehard — just look at the tattoo on his right forearm. It’s the Apple logo wrapped in razor wire that appeared on the cover of a 1997 Wired magazine issue.

“I joke that I’m getting too old for this, but then I keep doing it,” Wiskerchen said.

“Otto and I met at the iPad 3 launch and I haven’t seen him since then,” said Lee, laughing. “We see each other today and it’s like we’re old friends. That’s just the way it is. Now we’re plotting for the iPhone 6. It just happens.”

See related videoOpinions on iOS 7: Some people love Apple’s software update, others have no idea what it is

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  • Tim Acheson

    The Apple hype in this article is nauseating.

    • bladerunner

      Are you a masochist? Why are you reading it? Oh, to make a pithy comment. I get it now.

  • Joe McGrath

    So it actually is a cult.

    • Guest

      Yes. And like most cults it appeals to people with low self-esteem who are desperate to feel like they are part of something bigger.

  • Mike Stirton

    I will never understand the draw to use a device that is locked down to virtually prevent personal customizing seen in Android devices. Sure, there are mod sites for that scene, but from some accounts, the mods are not user friendly and still lack customization on a true level. Blackberry phones no better in that regard. I love the freedom to modify my device with little fuss if the mood grabs me. Lots of roms available to try out. And bending the OS to suit personal needs, not that of the developers. Long live open source software and the benefits it provides the end user.

    • woolovereyes

      android is not open source….

      • Jurassic

        Exactly! Licenses are paid on many different proprietary and patented software technologies in Android.

        In fact, Microsoft is estimated to collect somewhere near $8 per Android device, meaning its royalty fees could total $3.4 billion in 2013. In other words, Microsoft makes more money off Android than it does off its own Windows Phone OS. ;-))

      • Dave
        • woolovereyes

          Nice link to Android’s self-serving homepage. Try this more non-biased link:

          • Mike Stirton

            It’s the lack of community-based development that Android’s critics say
            makes it no more “open” than Apple’s locked-down, decidedly not-open iOS
            model. As Perens says, “most open source projects [include] instant
            access to changes as they are made … and an open door for anyone to

            Tell that to XDA developers. They will laugh you out of the forum.

            And that page does say one thing glaringly (that I suspect you did not see)…

            “The Android OS is, in strictly legal terms, open source. Android is released under the Apache 2.0 software license, which allows anyone to use, modify and redistribute the code.”

            But you are arguing semantics.

            Bottom line is, there is NOTHING in the Apple world that even comes close to open source, PERIOD.

            But that wasn’t my overall point, which was that I prefer to be able to modify my phone without the BS that Apple puts in place to prevent customization.

            Lots of other limits as well. Like nested windows more than 3 levels deep. If you do not know programming on the iPhone, that may be meaningless. But for others who do, it is a major pain in the ass for certain needs that cannot be realized because Apple saw fit to enforce that limit in the iStore. You cannot make that app without THEIR approval, and as such, cannot even make it for purely personal use.

            Plenty of reasons to diss the iPhone.

  • Guest

    Get a life people.

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