Apple Stores are usually faced with intimidatingly long lines on the morning of a new iPhone launch, but that largely didn’t seem to be the case today. As various reports and queuers have pointed out, some Apple Stores have very short lines out front for the iPhone 8, if they have anyone at all.
Reuters said that there were fewer than 30 people at Apple’s Sydney store, which usually has hundreds out front. And it described a “less lively mood in Asia” than for previous launches.
In Pasadena, California, ABC7 reporter Chelsea Edwards posted a photo from outside of an Apple Store with no one in front of it. It was taken early in the morning, so people could still show up, but for a line that often has people waiting overnight, it’s a strange absence.
This certainly wasn’t the case everywhere. Apple’s location at the World Trade Center in New York had a line this morning, and there appeared to be a big turnout in Singapore. Getty photos also show a long line at Apple’s Fifth Avenue store in New York.
Still, there are also some good reasons this launch might not be getting as much turnout. For one, this is the 10th generation of the iPhone, and hype has probably just died down. People are no longer lining up to buy their first or second smartphone, and this year’s model doesn’t have any revolutionary new features that people are willing to wait overnight for.
More importantly, Apple is launching another iPhone in November — one that’s far more interesting. If you’re the type of person who is willing to wait overnight for a phone to ensure you get it on day one, you’re probably the kind of person who would buy the cutting-edge model — the iPhone X — not the iterative update that’s coming out today. It’s the same reason there wasn’t a rush for the iPhone SE, either.
There are signs that the iPhone X is cutting into iPhone 8 online orders, too. Speaking to BuzzFeed News, Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s retail leader, said “it’s kind of our fault” that lines are going away, because Apple gives customers a choice of where to buy their phone, online or in person. That’s been true for years, though. BuzzFeed also says it saw short lines in Toronto, London, and Los Angeles.
While a sudden disappearance of customers may not be the reception Apple wanted, it’s far too early to say this means the iPhone has lost its luster. What’ll matter is what happens outside Apple stores on November 3rd, when the iPhone X comes out.