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.
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.
“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.”