Apple iPhone Launch Full Of Fail

Apple iPhone Launch Full Of FailDespite the Apple’s corporation’s best attempts to foist a ghastly US-style, all-whoopin’ and a-clappin’, backslappin’, high-fivin’, luxury goods-spendin’ iPhone ‘event’ on us Brits, initial reports suggest that the great occasion failed miserably to live up to the pre-launch hype. It doesn’t look like the UK sales on Friday are going to be adding to the expected 3m iPhone sales.

With the clock ticking down to the Apple-decreed hour of 6:02pm on Friday night, stockists Carphone Warehouse, O2 stores and Apple’s own retail chains were ready and waiting to deal with the expected rampaging hordes of credit card wielding punters desperate to shell out £269 for the privilege of owning an iPhone and spending 18 long months in the expensive company of exclusive carriers O2.

As the media whipped itself up into a storm of hyperbolic expectation (not us you may have noticed), camera crews were dispatched to the four corners of the land to record outbreaks of the anticipated iPhone hysteria, while O2 had announced that it was bussing in 1,400 extra staff to cope with the colossal demand. Railings and crowd barriers were assembled around key stores for fear of massive crowd surges toppling over entire buildings.

On the eve of the great day, a handful of tragic fanboys camping outside Apple’s flagship London store duly obliged with enthusiastic media interviews, saying that they were all shivering in the freezing November night to play their part in an ‘event’ that involved nothing more than, err, a handful of people shivering in the freezing November night.

Writing in the Telegraph, Sam Leith was even less impressed with the all-night fanboy campers, offering this useful guide:

Technology Clinic: Your iPhone Questions Answered
Q: What is the correct term for an adult human being who’s prepared to spend upwards of £1,200 to own a mobile phone for 18 months, just because it is made by Apple?
A: A wazzock.

Q: What is the correct term for an adult human being who will pitch a tent outside a shop overnight in order to be one of the first people on Earth to spend upwards of £1,200 to own a mobile phone for 18 months, just because it is made by Apple?
A: An utter wazzock.

Q: Does the Apple corporation do a valuable service to the general population by rolling out the iPhone, so that wazzocks and utter wazzocks can be quickly identified and – where appropriate – persecuted?
A: It does.”

Launch day
Come the great day, Apple’s flagship London store was still reporting much smaller queues than expected, with numbers struggling hard to exceed single figures by mid afternoon.

With the company desperate to stir up iPhone hysteria for the assembled cameras, the BBC reported that shop staff were swiftly sent forth to walk up and down the lines of people “whipping them into a frenzy”.

Come 6:02pm and things were finally looking reasonably busy in the media-saturated London store even if customers were being forced to endure toe-curlingly embarrassing staff antics, as each successful purchase was celebrated by air-punching and loud whooping.

It seems that the fever didn’t last too long, with a poster on urban75 remarking:
“Absolutely no need to queue as the Apple store on Regent St was clear of queues by 6.30 – less than half an hour after launch! I walk past it every night on my way to the station, and asked one of the half dozen coppers who’d been posted there what he thought: “All this for a bloody phone, and there’s no people!” Came the response with a chuckle.

The till may have been ringing in the flagship stores (for a while at least), but elsewhere the Web was resonating with talk of near-empty stores and non-existent queues.

Apple iPhone Launch Full Of FailDialaphone ran an article peppered with photos of deserted Carphone Warehouses entitled, iPhone Crowds? Don’t believe the hype! while the Register wasn’t impressed either, declaring that “Tumbleweeds outnumber punters, as iPhone’s First Night flops”.

Elsewhere, PC Advisor was declaring the UK launch “a disaster“, detailing customer frustrations as the “complex purchase process was brought to a halt by the system failure.”

While there’s no denying that the iPhone is an important new product and one that should have a major and positive impact on the mobile market, we seriously hope that the ice-cool response to Apple’s manufactured, swaggering consume-fest may make them think twice before starting up the ruddy whooping again.

23 thoughts on “Apple iPhone Launch Full Of Fail”

  1. Pingback: Tech Digest
  2. M$ paid you to bash the iPhone? Who cares? it’s the best phone out there, and the fastest smart phone in the planet, and it’s nominated the invention of the year, the paradigm shift which will kill the mouse because the multi-touch technology will be applied to computers very soon.

  3. If there had been U.S style demand at first, you would be saying “but can it last?”. I have been observing O2 and Carphone Warehouse stores locally over the weekend, and have observed tremendous interest in the iPhone. Everybody that sees one is impressed, and although not all will buy, many, like me, will be planning on getting one in the near future. I think this will be more of a ‘slow burn’ than in the U.S. The stores of other carriers were noticably empty over the weekend.

  4. John: read my article again. I’m not bashing the iPhone, just the buttock-clenchingly awful attempts by Apple to manufacture an “event” out of their launch.

    I never, ever want to be clapped, whooped at and hi-fived by hyperbolic store staff when I buy a phone and I hope Apple have learnt to stop trying to foist such hideous celebrations of high end consumism on us.

  5. Your obvious dislike of Apple and your sour reporting of the iPhone’s launch have, on my reading, completely clouded your judgement. With sales said to be in the region of 100,000, can you really justify your claim that the launch was a “miserably” failure? Maybe you know of another smart phone that sold twice or three times as many units in the same time, in which case, yes, the iPhone is not the story we have been led to believe. But if such a phone exists, the name of it completely escapes me.

  6. Will, I wrote that the iPhone, “failed miserably to live up to the pre-launch hype.”

    That doesn’t reflect on the positive qualities of the iPhone or its impressive sales figures, but in context of the enormous hype generated prior to the launch, I’d say that it’s fair to say that the reality fell far, far short of Apple’s expectations.

  7. Mike, we know exactly nothing of Apple’s expectations since, to the best of my knowledge, they did not reveal any figures. What are you basing your claim on?

  8. @Will – Misdirected call on the Apple-hating.

    Many of us at DL towers have loved Apple since the Mac Plus days – and own quite a few of them past and present – (my passion even spread to owning a NeXt Cube!)

    There a fundamental (probably a well chosen word in this context) problem in a world where, if you pass an observation that doesn’t praise Apple, some of their biggest fans assume that if you don’t love everything that they do (or call them on their over hype), that you must hate them. It’s not the case.

    Let’s remember this is a mobile phone we’re talking about, not The Third Coming, or even the iPhone 2 :).

  9. Will: I’d say O2 hiring in 1,400 mainly redundant extra staff and stores needlessly erecting crash barriers to deal with non existent queues would suggest that the launch didn’t quite match up the massively hyped expectations.

    You’re welcome to disagree of course, but I would say that there seems to be consensus emerging amongst punters and pundits that the iPhone launch wasn’t quite the rip-roaring media uber-event Steve Jobs and crew had hoped for.

  10. So, Mike – shall we applaud your miserable, cynical, Scrooge-like mindset instead?
    As far as I remember, Apple said nothing about sales expectations or anything else in the lead-up to it’s release. they left that to the rather fevered press to whip up a storm of publicity which said press duly shoots down in a fit of self justification and pique. Lol, you quote the Telegraph as an ally??
    Hmmn… you just about fit the same turncoat duplicity. Really, really, well done….NOT!

  11. Gentlemen, you’ve completely failed to make your case. Relying on the opinions of punters and pundits is no way to make an argument; facts are.

  12. The slight poison you injected in your comments on the “iphone failure” post shows your biased, ignorant and envious. I am listing this blogs in the Bozo column.

  13. La: I have not made a single negative remark about the iPhone in the article, so kindly take the time to read it again properly before consigning me to the (oh no!) “Bozo column.”


  14. Sales figures now filtering in – and those 1,400 hired-in staff must have been very redundant!

    “Phone sales were below tabloid guesstimates of 100,000 (The Sun & The Guardian) and 70,000 (The Mirror) – Erskine said the number was in the “tens of thousands”…

    “That’s probably not what O2 was thinking when it hired 1,400 extra staff ahead of the launch to cope with “unprecedented” demand. Apple’s retail partners even shut up shop ahead of the launch on Friday afternoon to prepare for the crush.

    So how well did the iPhone really do at the weekend?

    Carphone Warehouse, with over 1,000 stores in the UK, did most of the heavy lifting. O2 has 300 high street shops here and Apple just 12. A channel source tells us that Carphone took stock of 50,000 but only shifted around 11,000.”

  15. Mike: in response to your repeated “1400 reduntant staff” – I’m actually one of the staff hired by o2, trained specifically to deal with the ipone, and my department has been kept extremely busy since the launch of the iphone. The phones have been ringing off the hook with people trying to activate their iphones, and so far no one (to my knowledge) has been made reduntant…

  16. @Melanie – thanks for giving us the ‘inside view’ from O2. For clarity, I don’t think Mike was saying that the extra staff had been made redundant (ie lost their jobs), just that they weren’t used as heavily as expected (ie hiring the extra staff wasn’t necessary).

    More generally – I went into the Carphone Warehouse in Cowes, on the Isle of Wight at the weekend and heard that they had a queue of three people on the launch day! – which surprised me, as I didn’t think they’d have had any queue at all. They also reported that people we rather excited to get their hands on the phones.

  17. actually LOL at all of this.
    Who really cares how well the iphone is doing?
    It’s a great piece of technology marred only by a (currently) horribly-restricted OS.
    Why not allow “special features” pn the iphone, like the luxury of being able to send contacts? send or recieve MMS? Or even copy + paste? How about multiple recipitents for SMS messages or even (crazy I know) push email???

    The reality is that this is a device that cost a shitload to develop, by a company who want to recoup their costs by controlling the way it is used. I’ll be surprised if apple will make anything on the £269 RRP, so, like all other phone companies, they have to tie you into a BS contract in order to make a return.

    The lack of (basic) functionality usually expected of a phone, let alone a “breakthrough device” will surely be rectified by the very software updates designed to cripple any users who attempt to hack software and breach apples contractual agreement.

    FYI I dont own an iphone, nor am I an apple fanboy or basher. I just read it like it is.

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