God save the queue: Small showing for the London launch of iPhone 7


The Covent Garden Apple Store, where journalists probably outnumbered customers at the beginning of the iPhone 7 launch.
The Covent Garden Apple Store, where journalists probably outnumbered customers at the beginning of the iPhone 7 launch.

Image: nikolay nikolov/mashable

LONDON — We arrived at the Friday morning iPhone 7 launch in London to a dismal scene of maybe 10 people huddled under umbrellas outside the Convent Garden Apple store.

In previous years, diehard Apple fans have stood in line for hours and even days to get their hands on the latest gadget.

This year, they couldn’t even be bothered to queue. 

2016

2016

Image: lindsay davis/mashable

2015

2015

Image: liza hearon/mashable

In London, last year’s launch of the iPhone 6S saw a similarly depleted turnout and around the world the lines have grown noticeably shorter

There are several theories for the decline of the line.

A small cluster gathers outside the Convent Garden Apple store at around 7:15 a.m. BST.

A small cluster gathers outside the Convent Garden Apple store at around 7:15 a.m. BST.

Image: Mashable / Lindsay Davis

1. Worldwide stock shortages

In many places around the globe, the iPhone 7 Plus and Jet Black iPhone 7 will not be available to walk-in customers on the day of launch because they have completely sold out. Limited numbers are available for purchase on the day in some locations, but not in the UK, where both the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are totally wiped off the shelves except for preorders. 

2. Crappy weather

Thunderstorms moved across southeast England on Thursday night and into Friday morning, with lots of lightning and heavy rain. It probably wouldn’t have been safe to camp outside the store — even if fans wanted to.

3. The reservation system 

During the pre-order period, Apple customers could reserve their phone and pick which time slot they wanted to collect the phone, like they did last year. But with no phones available for walk-ins, just about everyone was just picking up their reservations at their assigned times. The people with the earlier times waited until the last minute to show up (probably sensible, considering the weather). 

Except, that is, for Stefan here, who had a later time slot but showed up at 6 a.m. just in case he could get it sooner.

All in all, we wonder if the reservation system has killed the queue in the UK. 

The queue is dead. Long live the queue.

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