Looks like with these relatively lackluster iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus lines, Apple may not exactly reel 'em in like they used to.
The new iteration of the ubiquitous iPhone launched worldwide today, and as CNet pointed out, the number of people waiting in line for the hardware was decidedly lower than it was for past launches. For example, they said that in Sydney, about 50 people turned up, a striking contrast to the line that took up "many blocks" in the past. In China, store employees took down crowd control barriers as the turnout was much, much lower than expected. And in New York, a crowd of about 40 showed up, only most of them turned up to browse and hang out, not buy the new phone.
It also looked like more than a few people showed up to purchase the new iPhone 8 only to turn around and sell them. For those that did wait in line, they might not be seeing the same profits that they had in the past. According to the South China Morning Post's report on the launch, there "wasn't a scalper in sight." They spoke with Wang Xiao, a salesperson in one of the malls in the area, who said, "We have cheaper phones available than Apple; no one wants to buy an iPhone 8 or a plus. It would be impossible to make a profit from trading an iPhone 8 here.”
At a neighboring store, another salesperson, Hu Jun, expressed a similar sentiment. "iPhones are not as popular as before. I don’t see any reason to buy an iPhone 8 or a plus, as they are no different from the iPhone 7 in appearance but the iPhone X should be much more popular."
As well, Apple allowed customers to pre-order their iPhone 8's and have them delivered to their homes or offices on launch day, which could be another reason why in-person queueing might not be quite so popular this time around. As the Sun points out, "two-thirds of the various iPhone models and configurations are not available for immediate delivery and can only be posted out in up to two weeks' time suggesting a large number of pre-orders have been made ahead of launch day."
It figures. Many of us who live in metropolitan areas have next-day delivery logistics more or less available whenever we'd like it. Waiting in line to get a new iPhone is more of a symbol — a gesture to demonstrate your fandom — than it is a practical way of getting something ahead of everyone else.
That being said, even though the turnout for the iPhone 8's launch may not have been exactly what Apple was hoping for, it's a pretty safe bet to say they aren't worried whatsoever about their earnings or popularity for the near future. The iPhone X is coming out in early November, and you can be sure that everyone who skipped out on this launch is going to turn out for a chance to get their hands on that particular model, rain or shine or threat of nuclear war be damned.