Sharp End: Shopping for the iPhone 4


Dealer Jez Harris attempts to get bis hands on the troubled, but sought-after Apple iPhone 4

Apple iPhone 4

Well it’s finally here. The much-anticipated Apple iPhone 4 has arrived albeit in extremely short supplies. I was one of the sad Apple fan boys that waited in line on June 24 to get my hands on this latest object of desire from Apple.

I first went to the Merry Hill shopping centre but as I approached the O2 store (I’m stuck in an O2 contract so needed to do an early upgrade) I was expecting a queue but was not expecting the queue to go past five neighbouring shops.

I thought, “It’s good but it ain’t that good,” and turned back. I then travelled to the O2 store in West Bromwich where there was a queue waiting outside the store. It was not too large so I decided to wait.

The O2 store was only letting in one or two people at a time so it was effectively closed to anyone not wanting an iPhone. After an hour of opening the door a few times to let people in or out, a member of staff notified the waiting ensemble that only seven iPhones were left. Bummer,  as I still had approximately 18 people in front of me. I gave up on the idea and decided to go to work instead.

Later in the day O2 launched its stock levels site and I checked stock for my area to see that two of Birmingham’s O2 stores had stock of the iPhone still. So I left work and went to Birmingham. At the first O2 store I asked the guy stood on the doorway like a bouncer if they had stock. “No.”

I went to the next O2 store and they had no stock left either. On my way back to the car park I passed the first O2 store again and there was someone else on the door so, on the off chance, I asked him. He stated they had a couple of failed transactions in the last few minutes and summoned me into the store to take the last one they had.

I am now the proud owner of the Apple iPhone 4 and I must say I’d forgotten how easy to use the iPhone is.

Apple may not introduce the latest technology first but it certainly introduces it better and with more finesse. There have been lots of reports about the iPhone 4 losing signal if held in a certain way but, personally, this has not been an issue for me.

I won’t report too much on the ins and outs of the iPhone as it has been reported to death virtually everywhere you look but I’d like to report on what a shambles O2 made of supplying the phone to its existing customer base.

O2 stated before launch that the iPhone 4 will only be available to existing O2 customers and will only be available via its own O2 stores. Why? I can understand restricting the phone to existing customers only but surely it would have made more sense to handle these existing customers either online or via telesales?

That way existing customers would have been dealt with without having to queue at stores and without having to employ store staff to keep punters informed of what’s going on.
Also, by handling upgrades directly online or over the phone, stores could  have remained open as normal and continued to sell to and serve the many more people that have no interest in the iPhone.

The launch was badly managed considering the experience O2 should have gained from previous launches.

Despite all this it still amazes me how Apple can generate so much hype over a product launch?

Full article in Mobile News issue 467 (July 5, 2010).

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