Waiting in line to buy a phone is silly

posted by Jeff | Saturday, September 20, 2014, 9:11 AM | comments: 2

Yeah, I'm going to say it out loud, I think people waiting in line for hours to buy an iPhone are ridiculous. It has nothing to do with the iPhone specifically, I just think it's a colossal waste of time.

First people will make an argument that there's some kind of scarcity, but that's silly. History has shown this is rarely the case. Not only are there usually plenty to go around, but you could just order one and have it shipped to your house. As a friend pointed out on Facebook, you could walk into a Best Buy near him and buy one instantly.

And that's not even the point. Even if there was a scarcity issue, why do you need it right now? How will it make your life better than if you get it a few days later? I bought the first iPhone the day after it came out, and was at the Apple Store all of five minutes, avoiding the chaos of the day before. Do people not value their time? Not only that, but it's just different hardware. If you have the previous iPhone, you already got the software update. The thing won't cure cancer. There isn't even an exclusivity angle there, because millions of people have the same object.

Another friend compared it to waiting in line for an amusement ride, but that's a straw man argument. If you want to ride the latest ride, your choices are to wait or buy into some kind of premium queueing. You don't have a choice. There is always a choice to buy a gadget, and there's a difference between buying "stuff" and having an experience. And no, I don't think waiting in line to buy something is an experience.

I have a gadget problem, I'll admit it. I've owned seven different tablets in a category that has only really existed for four years. I get it. As much as I've tried to focus discretionary income on experiences and not stuff, I still buy some stuff (an electric car, even). But I draw the line at subjecting myself to inconvenient circumstances just to have an object a little faster.

I think a part of my distaste for this gadget lust is rooted in a broader concern that people are so busy being plugged in that they aren't engaged in life around them. I see this all of the time at the theme parks, and it annoys the shit out of me. People run into you because they're busy looking down at their phones (admittedly, the parks encourage their use with info about wait times and such, but people can't be looking at that all of the time). More sad is the kids who are ignored by their parents because they're too busy texting or looking at Facebook or whatever. It's not that you can't do this, but know when to stop. You're in the happiest place on earth... look around you!

The next time you absolutely have to drop some cash on the next shiny object, I challenge you to wait a few days. I think your life will be just as robust, and you won't have wasted any time.



September 20, 2014, 10:50 AM #

The other thing that kills me about this is that there's no way all of these people are eligible to upgrade. So there's a real good chance that many of those people waiting in line are either paying extra money for the early upgrade or paying full price for the phone up front. I don't get that. I'm not due for an upgrade until April and I can wait until then. I may even try to hold out for whatever comes out a year from now.


September 20, 2014, 8:13 PM #

$300 even for a subsidized phone seems absurd these days, paying $600+ is outright insane.

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