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I Queued For Iphone 5 by omafones: 4:38pm On Sep 24, 2012
Wow what a day!

I have queued for Apple products before, like the iPhone 4s and the iPad 2 but never like this. Previously I never waited more than 1 hour 30 minutes to buy an Apple product, but wait almost 10 hours in total !!!

On this occasion myself and 2 others targeted 2 different locations in the London area, certain that we would each buy 2 handsets each as normally allowed by Apple, then we would re-join the queue and get another 2 handsets each.

That what our Asian friends do with every big Apple launch.

The scale of the demand for the iPhone 5 quickly (or should I say slowly) put paid to our plans.

Why we queued?

Just to be clear, the essence of buying a few Apple iPhone 5 handsets and sending to Nigeria is not really a profit making exercise; it’s really a service to those who really need to have the latest gadget as soon as they come out. I personally don’t need to have a gadget on the day of release but the world would be a boring place if everybody was like me. I really understand why people want to have new gadgets on the day of release. It brings out the inner child in us; like the shine and feel of new clothes on Christmas in my childhood, or wearing new shoes when I was a teenager going to that party, or later in life the smell of a new car. The excitement of a new product brings out a renewal in us, perhaps in a very small way like a new life.

Yes, the world would be boring place if we were all sensible and rational with all our actions.

As I said above the venture to be the first supplying the Nigerian market with the iPhone 5 is not by any shot a profit making venture.

Apple’s Plan

Apple Inc. does not launch the iPhone in every country in the world unlike other phone manufacturers, for instance Nokia has for years been a global player in the mobile phone sector with company representatives in nearly every country in the world, Samsung has also been pushing it’s products worldwide and in recent years Samsung has been using local celebrities to advertise it’s products in the different markets it operates; a la Drogba, Essien & Obi Mikel advertising Samsung products across West Africa.

But, no the behemoth that is Apple has another game plan;

July 2007 iPhone was available in 6 countries
July 2008, Apple released the iPhone 3G in twenty-two countries, including the original six.
By 2009 Apple released the iPhone 3G in upwards of eighty countries and territories.
The iPhone 5 will probably be released in 100 countries eventually.
(Source Wikipedia)

So you can see that despite the wild success of the iPhone, Apple still hasn’t officially really launched the iPhone worldwide, unlike its competitors. But as we all know ‘nature abhors a vacuum’ hence a massive ‘grey market’ has developed to serve those countries that either Apple has not officially provided the iPhone for or has brought in the iPhone months after a launch in other territories.

In earlier versions of the iPhone, iPhone were supplied tied to contracts with the Telecom providers, such O2 in the UK and AT&T in the US. This meant phones were ‘network locked’ and unlocking iPhones was a herculean task.

Getting your hands on a factory ‘unlocked’ iPhone and the proverbial ‘camel’s head and eye of the needle’ were said in the same breath.

From the iPhone 4, Apple realised that there was a large market for the unlocked iPhone – hence the Apple starting selling the unlocked iPhones directly to the public. These phones not being subsided by the Telecom Carriers were sold at a high premium and are really sought after.

An iPhone supplied from Apple direct comes with a no questions asked 12 months international warranty (extendable to more years if you care to pay an extra $100 or thereabouts). The Apple warranty is really cast iron, bring your phone back to any official apple shop in the world, as long as the IMEI number (the unique identifying number that mobile phones have) is valid and you are within the one year of purchase date, they will either repair the phone there and then on the premises or simply hand you over another brand new iPhone. Now that’s what you expect from a premium brand.

Who are in the queues?

Now with every launch of the IPhone and iPad (to lesser extent) expect to see massive crowds at the Apple Stores. Who are these people queuing to buy the handsets in particular?

Whilst many of those queuing up are undoubtedly ‘Apple fanboys’ or gadgetheads who need their fix of the new product, don’t be fooled by what the media makes the hysteria seem like a rush for an undoubtedly a fantastic product.

I personally was at Westfield shopping centre Stratford, East London where the queue was closed by 9 am with now fewer than 1500 already queued, I quickly rushed to Regent Street, flagship store where media reports 1300 queued well before the official launch time of 9am, I got there at 10am and I was not served until 6 pm that evening, there were in my estimation no fewer than 5,000 people bought 2 phones each.

The vast majority of the buying the phones were of South East Asian origin, Indian, Pakistani, Bengali, there were also many East Europeans, many of Far Eastern origin, I must say not many black people. In the 8 hours I was there only came across two groups of Nigerians.

My point; Apple uses these launches as an unofficial way to launch into markets it does not have an immediate presence or has a delayed or restricted launch date. These markets are important to any global company in today’s world. I think the words are ‘emerging markets’.

Not all these phones are en-route Afghanistan or Romania, a large number immediately find their way onto Gumtree or Ebay (for those of your familiar with Ebay notice the larger than normal ‘cash on collection’ offers on the iPhone 5).

Within hours of the launch of the iPhone 5, there were iPhones available on ebay with 30% premium. The iPhone 5 16GB sold by Apple for £539 was being sold online for £850!!!

Emerging Markets

I would imagine as with many so-called global brands, Apple would expect all its stores to be of the same standard wherever they are in the world; you walk into an Apple store in Tokyo, New York or Mumbai they should offer the same customer experience.

Establishing such a presence in many emerging markets might not be that easy for multi-nationals like Apple hence the roll out might not be as fast as one would expect.

Establishing Apples stores, customer support centres, distribution points, an advertising campaign, dealing with a myriad or laws and customs of different countries, always maintaining that no corners or shortcuts are taken is I presume something Apple takes seriously and as such means it’s not present in those countries where there is a demand.

The obvious question is Nokia and Samsung appear to have done it? Why not Apple?

The simple answer; not wishing to be accused of a fanboy, but can you compare the Apple experience in store to any experience you may have had in a Nokia or Samsung store (if indeed you have been able to locate one).


The great news is that MTN Nigeria intend to launch the Nano Sim.

Obviously MTN feel investing in providing Nano Sims is a worthwhile investment. The others will follow.

As Apple has never officially launched the iPhone in Nigeria its not possible to say how many iPhones are used in Nigeria. Most people like me can only use anecdotal evidence. But it’s fair to say that the iPhones used in Nigeria have been supplied by the ‘grey market’.

I supply high end smartphones to the retail market in Nigeria and it’s also fair to say that we easily sell a 50 blackberry phones to one iPhone in Nigeria. There are many reasons for this including but not exclusively cost, awareness, etc. Of the 60 million purported mobile phones in Nigeria can as many of 60,000 of them be iPhones?

Can Apple invest millions of dollars to sell 60,000 phones?

What happened when we queued?

As mentioned above, I first went to Westfield Shopping Centre in Stratford, East London, I got there about 9:15 in the morning. The queue was already at least 1500 in my estimation. You have to be given a ticket to even join the queue to ensure you would get a phone at the end of the queue. At 9:15am they had stopped giving out tickets. Bouncers were pushing people in a rough manner like to some unruly nightclub.

I left quickly left Stratford and rushed to central London, the Apple Regent Street flagship store, my colleague was already at the Convent Garden Store, whilst another colleague was at Bluewater. I got to Regent Street just after 10am, they were still giving out tickets although the queue here was at least 3,000 people. They were only giving tickets for 64GB as 16GB and 32GB had sold out.

We queued in a small park a block away from the actual store. We lined up and Apple staff were giving out free tea and coffee. It was not cold, but there was little sun, also it rained a little and no shelter. If you left the queue, other than to go to the toilet, you were not allowed back into the queue, your ticket would be taken from you.

I did not get into the Apple store until almost 6pm, the Apple staff still gave you that personal Apple experience when you were paying for the phone, they offered to setup, tried not to make you feel rushed, even though there were still at least 500 people behind me. Anyway they were not closing till 10pm.

So for those waiting to get the phone from our Lagos showroom on Saturday the 22nd day after release, I am sorry to disappoint you as by the time by colleagues and I met up (me from Regent, another from Convent and one all the way in Bluewater, Kent) it was too late to rush to the airport and we missed our courier. However I had ample to get to the airport on Saturday, courier got the phones and 6, just 6 phones were sitting in our Lagos showroom on Monday morning (24th September) – did any other major Nigerian supplier beat that record?

There will be more phones available this week, call if you want one.

Another blog too follow reviewing the iPhone 5.


1 Like

Re: I Queued For Iphone 5 by omafones: 4:40pm On Sep 24, 2012
trying to add pics but file too large
Re: I Queued For Iphone 5 by omafones: 1:27pm On Sep 25, 2012
Wow, only one left

32GB iPhone 5

Re: I Queued For Iphone 5 by Bawss1(m): 7:11pm On Sep 25, 2012
Way to go Omafones, way to go.

I hope we will see this type of service when the Lumia 920 launches.
Re: I Queued For Iphone 5 by omafones: 12:04pm On Sep 26, 2012
Bawss1: Way to go Omafones, way to go.

I hope we will see this type of service when the Lumia 920 launches.

We will definitely have the Nokia Lumia 920, Nokia strategy is usually different than Apple. We should be able to get them directly from our suppliers and have them in Nigeria at a much more reasonable price.

Having held the Nokia 900 and the iPhone 5, I must say on form factor the Nokia Lumia 900 beats the iPhone 5 hands down.

Lets see what 'apps' Windows * has for us?

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