In the middle of the Sydney central business district, surrounded by only a few essential belongings — a chair, a sleeping bag, some grocery and a suitcase — several young men are temporarily living on the street. They’ve been there for 24 hours already and don’t expect to get much rest until 5PM on Friday night.
They are the Apple faithful.
Apple’s new iPad 2 tablet has already been released in the US and this is the reason why 27-year-old Alex Lee, who is first in line outside the Apple’s flagship store on George Street, has one in his hands to play with, while waiting for buying a second one for his sister. Asked about how long he’s been in the queue, Lee hesitates: “Right now I’m not sure; I think 21 hours, so we have another 27 to go,” he said.
Lee said he previously had two first generation iPad and a couple of Android tablets, but admitted he did not use them as often as he would like when he traveled. Although owning a variety of portable devices, he maintained Apple’s iPad was the best above all. “I think the iPad is better, but I think it’s a personal choice,” he says.
Queuing besides him, there are other two Apple’s fan. One of them is 21 year old Myles Jihem, who is lying on the floor in a sleeping bag, a suitcase packed at his side. He will catch a flight to go to a wedding in Melbourne as soon as he buys an iPad 2.
Differently from fellow Alex Lee, Jihem says he does not already own an iPad — preferring to wait for the second version of the tablet in the belief it would be “significantly” better. “It’s the Apple thing, they usually give rather mediocre product at first,” he says. “But then they significantly upgrade it.”
Jihem says he would not wait in line for nearly 50 hours if it was for an Android tablet. “I’d queue for an Android tablet once it becomes better than the iPad,” he says, explaining that the applications are rather limited for the Android market and that he believes the integration between software and hardware is not good enough yet. “I’m interested in productivity applications like DropBox, thinking in the cloud is just brilliant, and music applications.”
Third in line is 14-year-old Tom Mosca, who has sat on a portable chair for the past 21 hours without sleeping. He says nobody has asked the queue to move and that the security guards agreed they could stay. The teenager, who claims to be the owner of over thirty Apple’s products, said he did not like the first iPad “so much” but maintains he instinctively would not buy an Android. “I don’t know, I just don’t like Android, it seems sloppy and not finished,” he says. “I think Apple has the best tablet so far and nothing can beat it yet.
However Mosca adds he was not entirely satisfied with the first iPad he owned. “I’ve used the iPad a lot and I didn’t like it that much, but I think the iPad 2 is a really good improvement,” he says. He explains the iPad did not have the features the iPad 2 does. “The iPad 2 is so much better”,” he says.
With a humidity level of 34 percent at the time of writing in Sydney, it doesn’t look like it will rain tonight — and the temperature is warm, making it a likelihood that the trio won’t be suffering too much by 5PM Friday night, when their desire for a new iPad 2 will finally be satiated. In the meantime, they will likely enjoy the hospitality of the Apple store staff — who are known to bring food and coffee for those queuing up — as well as the curiousity of passers by and the media.
And in the end, only those who undertake the ordeal will be able to say whether it was truly worth it.
Video credits: Delimiter