THE BLOG

The Apple Queue Is Dead. Long Live the Apple Queue!

24/04/2015 09:36 BST | Updated 23/06/2015 10:59 BST

Regent Street and Covent Garden are looking decidedly empty. Were it not for the throngs of shoppers, this would be a tumbleweed moment, rather like that scene in 28 Days Later when Cillian Murphy walks through a deserted London.

Is it just me, or do you think it's quite odd that, in a few hours, the Apple Watch will be officially within reach those of us who aren't Beyonce, Katy Perry or Pharrell Williams, and yet there aren't 100 people sleeping rough outside the Apple Stores, waiting in bleary-eyed anticipation?

No coffee or pizza companies offering free refreshment, no young tech fans braving a thunderstorm under a tarp or drunk people hurling abuse at these technophiles dozing restlessly in camp chairs at night.

No people travelling all the way from Moscow, and no professional queuers being paid by the uber rich to wait in line for several days. And no happy Apple employees whooping and cheering the queuers as they finally emerge from the store proudly holding their new iPhones aloft for the waiting cameras.

The Apple queue is more than just brand hype, it's a phenomenon. So why has Apple chosen to put a stop to the rough sleepers by changing the sale process?

The Watch was available to pre-order from April 10 online, and to preview in Apple Stores. However the Watch won't be available in Apple stores until June, as reported by TheVerge.com - although some high-end fashion stores in major cities will stock it. So you can buy a Watch in store, just not from an Apple Store. And it's rumoured that some who have pre-ordered the Watch could be waiting until August to received it, as reported by BusinessInsider.com.

To outsiders, it looks as through Ms Ahrendts - who worked wonders overhauling Burberry as its CEO - is keen to promote Apple Watch as an aspirational piece and a luxury product. That's why there's an 18 carat gold Edition version selling at £13,500, and why A-list celebrities have been given their Watches in advance.

Press photos of scores of people in anoraks and sleeping bags hardly promotes an air of luxuriousness now does it?

A part of me thinks this is a clever move, but I can't help but miss the queue. And Apple would do well to remember that the queuers are its number one fans, many of whom return year after year to wait in line.

Someone was quoted as saying: "The days of waiting in line and crossing fingers for a product are over."

That's wrong. Last year, Protect Your Bubble interviewed the first 100 people in the queue for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus on Regent Street and 47% told us there were there simply because they were die-hard Apple fans. Others were there to make money, either paid to wait on someone else's behalf or to sell their place in line. The queuers are there by choice.

These people keep Apple in the headlines and lead the social media buzz. This is one of the most photographed and talked about queues in the world. It's free global PR for Apple, and I can think of no other brand gets that kind of exposure for a product launch.

Let's hope Apple resurrects the queue for the next gadget launch.