This was the best response I heard given yesterday to the question posed by one of the many bemused passers-by that looked at the queue forming for the opening of the first Apple Store in the southern hemisphere with a mixture of derision and pity: “Why are you lining up for a computer shop?”
People were there for many different reasons. The free T-shirt. Maybe there would be some freebies. Some were there to show their support for Apple. Most just wanted to be part of the whole experience. This is Apple’s 215th store and is full of superlatives: The largest plates of laminated glass in the world, Apple’s largest Genius Bar and the largest Apple logo in the world.
There were fewer than 100 people in front of me when I took up my place in the queue behind several guys playing cards for matches. Once that game was over, Mimmo and Carlo – two Italian guys – put the matches from the poker tournament to good use. A policeman made enquiries as to whether they were going to clean up or let the hoardes of people behind us scatter them. He claimed it didn’t matter to him but we took the hint and cleaned up anyway. The Apple logo was torched to leave their mark behind before security asked them not to strike any more matches in case the fire got “out of control”. They were serious too.
The freebies did come. From McDonalds, Krispy Kreme, VitaminWater1, chocolate and some apple-flavoured liquorice from local stores as well as various discount vouchers and flyers which we were less interested in.
As it got closer to opening time, the 125 Apple staff ran the line (which was well over a thousand strong by that point) as usual whooping and high-fiving everybody. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many cameras and press reporters in one place. Every corner was crammed full of onlookers – mainly office workers on their way home. An opening event like this can’t fail to pique the curosity of the computer neutral.
Once inside I picked up my free T-shirt and made my way up through the three floors of Apple goodness using the normal glass stairs and soaked up the exuberance of the place for a while before using Google Maps on one of the iMacs to find the place I’d arranged to meet my friend for dinner.
My photos from the event can be found on Flickr.
1 I initially read the Power-C dragonfruit drink as “Power-PC”. Just goes to show you what frame of mind I was in.