Are some lives so empty that an iPhone 3G will fill the void?

by Paul Michael on 14 July 2008 56 comments
Photo: Rudolf Schuba

In certain parts of the world (Russia comes to mind), people have stood in line for hours just to get some food. It’s messed up, but I get it. If standing in line for hours will result in putting a meal on the table for your hungry family, I’m right there. But why are people spending hours in line for a cell phone?!

I saw a clip from a news show this morning featuring a reporter who is clearly as dumbfounded as I am. The future iPhone 3G customers were stood in a long line waiting for the technological marvel that was about to change their lives forever.

It would make them happy. It would bring them the joy their lives were missing. It would be their friend, their confidant and their partner. On dreary days, it would sing sweet songs to them. It would massage their brows in times of sorrow. It would like the same food. Love the same sports teams. Everything was about to be perfect.

Well, not really. Because as several people have already tried to point out, including the reporter in the clip , it’s JUST A PHONE!

Sure, it’s groovy, but what else could you be doing with your time? Wisebread’s core philosophy is about living large on a small budget. And standing in line for hours to pay $200 (plus thousands in future cell phone bills) for a cold, hard gadget is neither of those things.

This all goes back to the article I wrote on Fight Club. It’s just stuff. It’s just a thing. A thing that will cost you high monthly charges for a minimum of two years. Why would anyone feel the need to waste their time and money on this? I mean, I like gadgets, I really do. I just bought a GPS system for my car because I’m so hopeless with directions. But I found it used on eBay and it was delivered straight to my door.

However, the iPhone 3G craze seems to go a lot deeper than just having some cool gadget. It’s almost as if people are afraid NOT to be one of the first to own it. I mean, what would their uber-techy friends say? What sneers and jokes would be made behind their backs if they shamefully pulled out the brick that is the original iPhone. Oh, the humiliation. Could they ever show their outdated faces in public again?

Personally, if you don’t pull out an iPhone 3G in my presence, and instead dial someone on a crappy old cell-phone that doesn’t even have funky ringtones, I’ll be way more impressed. You’re not owned by technology or advertising. You clearly have more self-confidence. And you’re not making up for something (like the guys driving the $120k slick black Porsches that guzzle gas and may be a substitute for something else sadly lacking). Here's another great clip from The Soup that made me chuckle, probably because it's so true...

I know I’ll get negative comments galore for this one, but I really don’t care. At the end of the day, if you really do feel like a gadget is worth all of this wasted time, effort and money, I’d like you to sit down, form the lotus position, and repeat after me…

It’s only a phone.
It’s only a phone.
It’s only a phone.

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Guest's picture
Dianna

no negative comments from me, i SO don't get it. i always use whatever the free phone is that comes with the plan, my biggest choice is the color.

now, standing in line for an event, like a concert, i can get. because then it becomes part of the event itself.

i even went to a midnight release event for the last harry potter book, because that was fun in and of itself -- people were in costumes! -- it was like going to a halloween party.

but a phone? who cares? when did phones become a lifestyle item? they used to be the thing that sat on the kitchen counter. if back then someone had told me that someday people will stand in line all night for the release of a high tech toaster, it'd have been about as believable.

Guest's picture
Guest

I have a cell phone. It is several years old, looks like it has been run over by a car, and is usually turned off. I carry it with me for emergencies, loan it to my kids when they go out, and use it to call relatives because it has lots of lovely free long distance minutes. When I was younger I would get all excited by new tech toys, now I just want my tech to work and be reliable. I guess I've grown up and/or gotten old.

Paul Michael's picture

I always did want one of those groovy toasters that also cooks an egg for you. But they're hardly top of the line, Big Lots now sells them for $20.

Guest's picture
Dave

Mine is :-(

Guest's picture
Guest

A mini computer like the iPhone can save you lots of hours by increasing your productivity(just take a look at the app store + email + internet). It may worth the cost, but standing a day in line is ridiculous.

Guest's picture
Jared

my boyfriend is caving in and buying one today (or at least trying to, there's a DRASTIC shortage! oh the agony!) I've been encouraging him not to, because he has a perfectly good blackberry and he doesn't qualify for the cheaper phone prices since he already has a contract with AT&T. i mean, i'm a mac fan and all that, so i guess i look forward to getting to play with it, but i just wish he'd put that money somewhere else at least until he can get the cheaper prices (or until an even newer, better, and more hyped one comes out.)

Guest's picture
Guest

I've waited in line for the wii three times, mostly for other family members. I did it because it was fun. The boy and I camped out over night, he tried to stay up the whole time, mario kart ds racing, it was just a really good time. Getting away from the computer and being outside for awhile is never a bad things, and bye the way, it's free. If your buying the phone anyways, might as well have a good time doing it. I would love to see someone camp out in like a month, just for fun.

Guest's picture
Chris M

There are better places to camp than a parking lot. I'd recommend your local state park. And if it's a really good camping spot, your iPhone won't work anyway. ;-)

Guest's picture
Guest

On Saturday, the Apple store in the west village stopped the sales of the iPhone because the line got too short. Then on Sunday the line was down the block again. It's cool that Apple is doing what they need to do to keep the excitement alive, but c'mon!

I got my first-gen iPhone on the third day by walking into the soho store at lunch. No line, no fuss. I don't do lines. And I won't this time either.

Guest's picture
Dave T

Seriously, I'm always out buying gadgets, a new PC every year or two to speed things up (which often are cheaper than the 1st gen iPhone), I have a Samsung blackjack and a Blackberry from work, Wii, etc. But what I do not get is spending hours in line to SPEND MONEY on anything. OK, Maybe back in the day concert tickets were worth waiting for, before the Internet came along. Or a midnight sale of a new CD, also before the Internet, big movie blockbuster.

But is the phone going to be any different next week when there isn't a line?

I actually hit a line on saturday a.m. in Skokie, IL because my wife really wanted one and I felt bad she had a crappy Moto razr 1st gen still. I had actually bought her a 1st gen iPhone after the first price drop but she returned it. Now she says she really wants it.

Anyway, the line was ridiculous. An hour into the sale and only 12 people left with phones. I had to leave for a baseball game but I'd bet I wouldn't have gotten the phone until at best noon being 50 deep in line. Opening at 9 a.m.! And the line stretched at least 100 behind me. Those folks would be waiting 5-6 hours my guess. Your whole Saturday, for a phone.

It turned out to be a great day. The Cubs won. My wife and I spent time together, I spent a lot less than $199 at the ballpark too.

Guest's picture

It's pointless to complain about stuff like this because priorities all over the place. You may spend time and money on something that I think is a waste of both. It's okay to question the determination but to talk down to someone just because you don't like the same things? That's just pointless.

I have an iPhone 3G. I waited in line because I wanted to. I didn't have anything else to do that day that was of any importance and when I got home I spent the rest of the day fiddling with the settings and downloading apps.

And guess what? I know it's just a phone. You know what? This is just a blog, and what you use to write this blog is just a computer and so on and so on... If you like it, then it's not a waste of time.

Guest's picture
Guest

"It's pointless to complain about stuff like this because priorities all over the place."
You might have meant everyone has different priorities. Yes, some people's priorities are messed up.
He never said he didn't LIKE the iPhone. The point was wasting a day waiting to be one of the first to have it is ridiculous. If there is nothing else you would rather do than use a day off waiting for an iPhone then you should check your priorities. Using a little thought and creativity can lead to a world of activities and experiences more rewarding and fulfilling than waiting in line for a new gadget.
Writing (as in a blog) is a form of expression. Despite one's opinion of the blog, it takes thought and creativity. How does this compare to lining up like a sheep for a phone?
I'm betting he gets the fact that a computer is just a computer. I'm also betting he didn't waste a whole day waiting in line for his.

Guest's picture
abhinav

no man, what he writes is ideas... and the iphone is just a way to reach ideas/information... and to tell you the truth, ideas are more important than a stupid tool. for the record, i own a nokia 1100

Guest's picture
abhinav

PS: my post above was a reply to post#11

Guest's picture
Guest

Other than the fact that it's from Apple, I don't see what makes this iPhone (or the previous one) worth the hype. There's plenty of other phones out there which are far more advanced, less expensive, and aren't tied to probably the 2nd worst carrier in the nation. I look at my Blackberry and other than it "only" holds 8GB of music/videos, I can't see anything the iPhone has over it. I can type 60-80 words per minute on the Blackberry, even touch-type, which isn't something that can be done on a touch-screen. When I'm on the road, my Blackberry connects up to my laptop and provides me with a nice EVDO internet connection. GPS w/Garmin software on my Blackberry as well. And yes, when the battery starts to get weak, I can buy another for <$20 and just slide it in there. Every morning my PC automatically downloads and transcodes BBC World News & the local news and dumps it onto the Blackberry's memory card for me. No extra fees.

Seriously, if someone came up to you and promised that they could give you an extra hour, 2, or even 6 extra hours this week to use any way you wish, how much would you pay for it? There's how much your time's worth then.

In my case, between my salary & how much I value my time, there's no way in hell I'm going to stand in any line. I've only got a set amount of time left in this life and I plan on enjoying every last scrap of it while I can. Life's short...even shorter when wasting it in lines.

Guest's picture
Guest

I have a friend that just waited all night for the phone.
I asked her why she would do this for a phone.
She said "'Cause it's the new 3G phone!".
Again, I asked her why she would do this for a phone.
Exasperated, she said "You don't understand, it's just exciting to part of something new. I'm just excited to part of the Mac community.".

Something new? Mac community? She's right. I don't understand

Guest's picture
Guest

I don't get it either... and yes, I do own a Mac...and a few PCs. They're tools to get things done. Nothing more. Maybe it's that sense of common experience/community that people are craving?

Also, what's the fun of having something when everyone else has it? Once it goes on sale to the general public, it's too late for me. Getting one "off the dock" in Hong Kong several weeks/months before they're available to the masses = cool. Then again, I drive a prototype car. To me, individuality = the person, not the material items. BUT, if you're going to focus on material items, you might as well find rare things that everyone else doesn't have / isn't doing. Don't even get me started on people getting tattoos "to be different." A little late now that a substantial amount of the population has them.

Guest's picture
Guest

Yes, it is pointless to wine about someone standing in a line to get a phone .... it's definitely prorities. If standing in a line for an phone is rediculous, then one could feel the same way about someone standing in the line, all night to get their hands on a new Harry Potter book, all those who stand in a line for hours to get into a concert or a ball game. Makes sense? It doesn't, right?

It is all about priorities. What feels important to you might look rediculouos to someone else and vice-versa.

And I would not even get into the discussion of comparing iPhone with Blackberry. Both of them have their pros and cons depending on what the primary intent of use is.

Guest's picture
Patrick

The iPhone isn't really a phone. Yeah, it can be used to call people, but that's not the point.

The iPhone costs me $1.40 per day more than my old basic nokia candybar phone, which didn't have internet access, camera, etc. ($300 + $30/mo * 24 months)/(365*2). $1.40/day is 50% more than the NY Times costs, less than a cup of black coffee costs, less than what driving 3 miles at current IRS reimbursement rates costs.

This is an unexaggerated rundown of my iPhone use over a 3 hour period this morning. What follows reads like a fanboy rave, but I assure you I have tons of gripes about the device and no brand loyalty whatsoever. I am not making this up, even though this is exactly the sort of crap you'd expect out of an apple tv ad.

I left my office and went to the bus stop to catch a ride across town to a meeting. I was at the bus stop, and decided I wanted coffee, but didn't want to miss the bus. I looked up real-time bus location data, and figured out I didn't have time to get that coffee. Sigh....I'll just drink the swill at the meeting.

While on the bus, I read your post, snorted out loud at your angst, and marked it to come back to. I got to my meeting, sat down, and realized that while I was in the building I should pick up some posters I had printed a few weeks ago. I emailed the guy in charge of those and arranged to get them after my meeting.

Meeting ends and...oops, I forgot where poster guy's office was. No problem, because the office directory is instantly available. Got to his office, grabbed the posters, and headed back over to my office across town via bus. While on the bus, I emailed reminders out for a meeting tomorrow. Email complete, I called my wife to chat, hung up, then listened to some music while reading boingboing.

Almost none of those things are "phone activities". Some saved time, some killed it. However, the overall experience is like having most of the world's information always with you, in a pretty box that is ridiculously well designed and fun to use. To me, that's worth way more than $1.40 a day and yeah, worth standing in line for a couple hours with a bunch of enthusiastic people all just as stoked as I was.

Sorry you don't get it, but that doesn't make iphone owners idiots or suckers.

Guest's picture
Guest

I don't consider this post "whining". Ranting, maybe, but we're all entitled to our own opinion and that's what blogs are for, you know?

I quite like the iPhone and would love to get one, but I have issues about standing in line. It definitely offends my sense of dignity - it's not that some things aren't worth waiting for, it's just that the lines themselves are a marketing ploy from these big companies, and I refuse to take part.

Guest's picture
Dave T

It's not Apple hate he's talking about. I don't think anyone cares if the iPhone could wipe your ass for you, it's still not worth waiting in line hours/days for a "product" that will be readily available in another week or two.

I didn't even mention in my first comment all the families I saw in line with very young children. That's just ridiculous.

Guest's picture
Lucille

A phone is a tool. An iPhone or a Blackberry or similar type phone all have features that make them more usable than a bottom of the line freebie phone. None of this explains why someone would torture themselves by wasting hours of their time standing, waiting to buy a product. They were not saving any money by standing in line or reaping any other great benefit. This just seems like people who are so manipulated by marketing and consuming that they would willingly abuse themselves in some manner for a product. People walked in and got one a day or so later without standing in line.

Guest's picture
Lucille

A phone is a tool. An iPhone or a Blackberry or similar type phone all have features that make them more usable than a bottom of the line freebie phone. None of this explains why someone would torture themselves by wasting hours of their time standing, waiting to buy a product. They were not saving any money by standing in line or reaping any other great benefit. This just seems like people who are so manipulated by marketing and consuming that they would willingly abuse themselves in some manner for a product. People walked in and got one a day or so later without standing in line.

Guest's picture
Heather

I love all things Mac and considered the new iPhone for it's lower price tag UNTIL I realized I'd be spending nearly $1700 minimum in cell phone bills over the next two years.

Right now I pay $25 for air time every three months with a Pay-As-You-Go phone. Works for me.

Guest's picture
syalam

though i don't see eye to eye with you on the iPhone as "just a phone" - i took a little bit of a positive spin...

http://fratboyinvestor.wordpress.com/2008/07/14/the-iphone-is-an-investm...

Guest's picture
Guest

so does that make me more or less "pathetic" than those that wanted one, and did?

Also, I have to chuckle at those who posted "I waited in line for x, but this is just a phone" Well, Harry Potter is just a book, Star Wars is just a movie, and Wii is just a video game. I saw some of the lines in NYC on Friday, and it was just as social of an event, just without the costumes (unless you count hipster as a costume).

Guest's picture
gabriel

I look at the iphone the way I look at Obama, lots of hype, but there are far better substitutes that will cost me far less in the long run.

Guest's picture
Michael M

Excellent article. It amazes me that people will stand in line hours for this new phone. We are in a recession though, right :)? If things were that bad in the economy, people would be struggling to put food on the table not standing in line for hours for a phone. People fail to take into account the true cost of owning this new gadget with the monthly plan required, etc. And, I'd be willing to bet most put this purchase on credit and are what the credit industry calls their beloved "revolvers" we pay the bare minimum each month.

Guest's picture
Mia

Every now and then I get very depressed. When this happens my immediate urge is to buy a macbook. Thank god I have a wonderful boyfriend who talks me down from the ledge. I got an ipod touch as a present (mom won it and couldnt work it out, haha) and the urge to buy a macbook was HUGE. Why? So my gadgets would match. How sick is that?

I am happy I didnt spend the money. Here in South Africa it is hugely expensive. I'd rather save that money for a deposit on a house one day. At least a house wont get dented or break easily.

(as an aside, I once read a question posted by a graphic designer with a DEGREE on some forum. The question read: "Any designers here on PC? Do you have any issues?"
I just thought to myself, my god person! Are you retarded? Just goes to show the power of peer pressure. Many people don't even know that non Mac options are even viable)

Guest's picture
az

Yeah, this rant makes me a little sick. Hell, I could live without a mobile phone, but this is not a phone, it's a mobile computer.

Do you need a mobile computer? No. Do you need a computer? Nope. Do you need a calculator? Nada. Do you need paper and pen? Not really. People everywhere are surviving without any of that right now.

It's about improving the quality of life. If I can work more efficiently with a smart phone then I can have a happier life.

I don't have Cable TV. I don't pay for satellite radio. I pay for my part of a family plan for two phones that is $60/mo. I think I know how to handle my finances.

Oh, and I've spent about $30 out of pocket for this iPhone. Don't talk to me about being wise with my bread.

And yes, I waited a total of three hours for this device that was "just a phone".

A phone that will make me more productive at work. A phone that will provide me entertainment. All of this along with a social experience waiting in line, chatting with like-minded individuals who love technology.

If you don't get it, maybe you should write about something you DO understand. I think I got a bargain.

Guest's picture
Aaron Griffin

Man, this post was awesome, and really funny. And the commenters with their knickers in a bunch just made this all the more hilarious.

I humbly request more posts like these in hopes that more whiny materialists with some grandiose feeling of entitlement will comment and tell you "u r dum, appel is teh bests at phones!"

Guest's picture
Dianna

i'll be darned you really DID get loads of negative comments. i thought you were exaggerating.

Guest's picture
Guest

The difference between the iPhone and every other phone out there is the quality of the web browser. All of the pages show up in their entirety, in crisp, beautiful colors. The pages look amazing. They are easily navigable with the touch screen, and I can zoom in on even the tiniest letters to make them readable. For users like me, the ONLY reason for having a fancy phone (compared to my previous old-school candy bar phone) is the ability to surf the web without intense frustration. Even my tech-tarded mother is thinking about getting one, because it is easy to use, and does what it does AMAZINGLY WELL.

Also, your math sucks. At $30 a month, it would take almost three years to even spend ONE thousand dollars, as opposed to the "thousands in future cell phone bills" that the article claims. Are you assuming that the people who buy brand-new iPhones aren't already paying for a cell plan every month? The iPhone data plan isn't more expensive than other plans (I have the old $20 plan, so I'm ahead of most data users), and $200 isn't an unreasonable amount to spend on a phone.

While waiting in line for a product that will still be there in a few weeks seems silly, most of these complaints are even sillier. If you're going to bag on iPhone users for spending "thousands in future cell phone bills," you need to bag on ALL data plan users.

Guest's picture
Outrun

I don't think the problem lies with the people who actually HAVE a need for this phone, many users in this post are posting that they actually use the phone as it was intended and therefore get their money's worth out of the product. I don't think a purchase is a wasted purchase if you are using the item everyday and have knowledge of how it works etc.

However there seems to be another class of people who are buying it just to have it, and this is true with many other electronics like the Wii. They are buying it for the sole purpose of the fact that it will make them more popular and make them be cool with their friends, and that they have to have it or else friends will constantly pick on them for not having the latest Iphone (god forbid you have an older model or a different phone that still works perfectly and fits your needs). I think these are the people that this article targets, how many people in that line were buying it just to have it and barely know what it is other than its the next hot product that we have to have to be cool, vs how many people were buying it to use for its full functionality. There is a huge difference here.

Guest's picture
Guest

I mean, who is the lord-high-arbiter of whose usage is iPhone-worthy and whose isn't. If my mom got one, it would be because it's a neat gadget that looks fabulous, the print on it (calculator especially) is large enough for her to read easily (cataracts), and on the (extremely rare) occasions when she needs internet on the go, she would actually be able to read the page. She wouldn't even need a data plan! My sister says she shouldn't get one, because she wouldn't use it to its full potential, but she's a grown woman who pays her own bills, and if she likes it better than what she's got now, more power to her.

Does this make her trendy? If so, look out for Winnie-the-Pooh henleys and denim purses to be fashion hits this fall!

P.S. I get tons of crap from people assuming I'm trying to be hip for daring to own an Apple product (my first), and no one has looked down on me for not upgrading.

Andrea Karim's picture

What readers don't realize is that Paul actually won, in a free drawing, the title of Official Lord-High-Arbiter of Whose Usage Is iPhone-Worthy And Whose Isn't. Just for future reference.

I don't suppose it matters that much - a friend of mine was showing me all the features on his iTouch - it's pretty cool stuff, and I suppose I would even use some of it, if I wasn't so easily irritated by small gadgets in general. I'm with you on the no standing in line rule, and I apply that to everything - be it a Star Wars movie, a Harry Potter book, or a Wii. It's not that I think I'm too cool to stand in line with the unwashed masses, I just really freaking hate standing in line. It makes me stabby.

Guest's picture
Guest

I missed that raffle. Please let me know when the next one comes up. I would love to be Lord-High-Arbiter of Who Gets To Give Me Crap Over My Tech Purchases. I'm big into long titles.

Stabby, huh? Remind me not to go to an amusement park with you. Oh wait, I don't go to amusement parks. Because I freakin' hate standing in line!

Guest's picture

I'm like you in that I'm more impressed by people with old crap than those with the latest toys. It reminds me of high school--we would compete to see whose car was crappier. I had (and still have) more respect for people who don't use stuff as a replacement for genuine personality.

Guest's picture
Guest

YUP; THEY NEED LIVES!!!!!!!!

Guest's picture

I'm one of those people who've spent hours in food lines, only to get up to the top of the line to discover that the tiny bags everyone is allowed are all gone.

Obviously, no one is going to get me in a line for a gadget. People just have too much these days, so things like these sadly become very important to them.

Guest's picture
Guest

Waiting in line for an iPhone isn’t any different than people who wait in line for concert tickets, sample sales, book signings or amusement park rides. It’s all about the excitement and anticipation, and not always about the final product. This has nothing to do with starving families waiting in line for bread or government cheese, this isn’t about “need.” People have a lot of fun doing these kinds of things, and what seems silly to me is a lot of fun for others. Apple is offering a good product at a (relatively) reasonable price. It moves the benchmark forward by a little bit. I’m glad that we live in a society where we can get excited such things.

Guest's picture
O'Boogie

It is OK if you don't want or don't understand the need for an iPhone. You don't have to have one. That doesn't automatically make those of us who have one asses. I have a first-generation iPhone, and I am perfectly happy with it. I don't run out and buy every upgrade.

Anyway, just because you don't get it doesn't make it wrong. I hope you feel better now that you got all of this off your chest. You can resume breathing normally now.

Guest's picture
Guest

I couldn't agree more with this response. I'm not going to leave a negative comment, but just because someone wants an iphone doesn't mean their lives are empty. I've never had a nice phone. I have a piece of junk samsung that goes with my prepaid virgin plan. And for my birthday, my husband bought me an iphone. I guess my life is empty too, because I love the iphone!

Guest's picture
good ole neon

the iphone is just the latest sign post in an ongoing spiritual crisis. attacking the iphone is not really going to get us anywhere. I think the real problem lies beyond this as many of the posts here have subtly suggested. Many Americans are selfish, materialistic, greedy, and morally corrupt. These symptoms go hand in hand with the lack of self confidence and that existential dilemma of living an empty consumerist lifestyle. I see a lot of pathetic excuses for the justification of desire, greed, status, etc. its sad really. we as a nation have so much potential (power and money) but we waste it on shallow aims.

Paul Michael's picture

...first, this is not an attack on the iPhone. I'm sure it's a groovy product, Apple make great gadgets. My point of the article was not about the phone really, but more questioning why anyone would spend hours and hours in line for a gadget. Spending hours in line to see a great musician or band is fine by me. You're about to have a life experience, and you can only see the musician on that particular date. But everyone can have an iPhone 3G...why do you need to have one first?

Guest's picture
Nebula

I agree w/Paul Michael, the issue isn't whether it's worth standing in line for or not, since there are obviously two camps here: those of us who would stand in line for recreational things, be it experiences, gadgets or books, and those of us who wouldn't for any reason unless it was a necessity such as food.

The issue is why not wait until you don't have to stand in line for it? Why the big rush to be the first on the block to own it? Who are we competing with? Why are we compelled to have the bragging rights of first ownership? What difference does it really make? That's the part I don't get.

Guest's picture
Brittany

I went to the iPhone 3G launch in Providence, RI. Mind you, being RI, it was probably smaller than alot of other metropolitan launches. I only stood in line for about 2 hours, and the Apple employees gave us water bottles and answered questions while we were waiting in line.

Does my iPhone fill a void? Maybe. I had previously had the same Razr v3m for a few years, and the battery barely charged. Serendipitously, my Verizon contract had expired on the 6th of July, erego I avoided an ETF (aside from paying for the month of July, which meh).

You know what alot of us techies were doing in line? Working. I had my laptop on me and I was telecommuting to work the entire time. Just because we stand in line doesn't mean we're "wasting" our time, thats the beauty of the technology.

Lines really aren't a complete waste of time. I've stood in line for midnight releases at gamestop, and left not only with the game but with contact information of some new friends. I may be alone in this, but I still like REAL LIFE social networking, and in a line for something like a phone or a game you obviously share common interests with the people around you.

So, I do agree, it is only a phone. Would I camp overnight for it? No. But waiting in a line for a few hours isn't as crazy or worthless as some people make it out to be.

Guest's picture
Amy

Having an iPhone significantly improves my quality of life for one main reason: I can easily get real-time bus arrival information with it.

As a frequent user of public transit in San Francisco, knowing what my various bus options are at any given time when out and about is a huge deal, especially considering how unreliable MUNI is. (ie the posted schedules are meaningless) Knowing what kind of wait times you might be looking at can help you use your time much more efficiently or draw up a plan B if necessary.

My original iphone was stolen, so after several months without being able to check the bus arrival information away from my computer, I was happy to wait in line for one to get it ASAP.

I've waited in lines overnight for tickets to various things, and it's all the same.... you meet the people in line, share a common experience, and have a good time.

Guest's picture
Patrick in Dallas

"selfish, materialistic, greedy, and morally corrupt"

That's what poster #43 thinks I am for getting an iPhone. Oh, my gosh. What a grotesque overreaction! I drive a 10-year old car with almost 150,000 miles on it and don't plan to replace it until it keels over and dies. My computer is so old it will barely run iTunes to sync the phone to. I recycle everything I can. I ride my bike to work whenever possible (I work 2 jobs and sometimes the schedule doesn't allow). I don't have cable. I'm 51 years old and this is the first time I've ever paid for a phone, having always previously gotten a free one with service plan extensions (Actually, I don't remember 25 years ago very well. I may have paid for the first one if they weren't giving them out free back in the early days.). Etc.

I do NOT ask anyone to congratulate me for all that, and don't think I deserve congratulations. It's just my choice, and I don't even really think about it.

I'd just suggest that all those people out there talking about how ridiculous it is for some of us to get iPhones -- even standing in line for one -- are just as much in need of "lives" as new iPhone users. Sitting around believing yourselves morally superior because you've made different choices about gadgets is a waste of energy and does not, in fact, make you any less "morally corrupt" than me. It is not proof that you are any less selfish, materialistic or greedy than me. Don't judge me and I won't speculate about what spiritual need is filled in your life by setting yourself up on a pedestal of moral rectitude because you made the choice not to get an iPhone.

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Guest

For the most part, I also fail to see why people would stand in line for hours for this. But as extreme as they are, some of your views are just as extreme, in the opposite direction.

That second iphone video is hilarious though. Maybe you should try and snatch an old iPhone for $17?

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good ole neon

Dear Patrick in Dallas,

Attributing things to me that I did not say or mean is a personal pet peve of mine. I absolutely DID NOT say that anyone who buys the iphone is selfish, materialistic, greedy, and morally corrupt. You made that statement; not me. (and then you vehemently defended yourself against it. very strange.)

To clarify my words (and in no way contradict myself), the iphone craze (among other things like celebrity idolization, designer clothing, hummers, etc) is a signpost, that is a symptom, an indicator, a pointer, of a serious spiritual crisis. You don't have to agree with the assessment, but given your over zealous defense of yourself, you may want to consider it.

The iphone is not essential. It is completely frivolous. (and all the justifications I've read so far about improving quality of life are totally weak.) Sure its cool, but why isn't ending world hunger cool? why isn't peace cool? if people gave as much time and thought into real problems as they do to coveting superfluous "gadgets", think of what we could do.

Guest's picture

The sad part is, even though I agree completely with your statements, I'm still being pulled inexorably toward buying this stupid hunk of metal. I can completely and fully predict my buyer's remorse, but the power of the iPhone compels me.

The power of the iPhone compels you!
The power of the iPhone compels you!
The power of the iPhone compels you!

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Alibaba lalalalala

to see what all the craze is about. i have to say it's neato. oh and i waited zero minutes in line because i'm not a dumbass who goes to some store in the center of a yuppy area. anyway i prefer to use an indestructible motorola razr when i'm out performing activities that cause physical damage to hardware in my pockets, but i very much enjoy playing with the iphone in the office.

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Guest

To paraphrase Ezra Pound:

O generation of the thoroughly smug
and thoroughly uncomfortable,
I have seen Iphone-toting businessmen picnicking in the sun,
I have seen them with their untidy mobile-phone toting dysfunctional families,
I have seen their cell-phone induced brain cancer smiles full of teeth
and heard ungainly brain-damaged laughter.
And I am happier than you are,
And they only thought they were happier than I am;
And the fish swim in the lake
and do not even own clothing.

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Toby

Why do you care if other people are interested in a new technology and want to stand in line for it? Get over yourself.

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Eugene

Hi,

I actually wrote about pretty much the same thing when the first iPhone came out. I still don't get it and I'm glad so many others don't either!

To read the article, check out www.varsityblah.com/calling-all-customers/