As with all previous Apple product releases, the general media and the tech blogosphere have been markedly exultant about the official release of the iPhone 5 on September 21st, 2012. Most of you have probably seen at least one video or photo of die-hard Apple fans eagerly waiting over night in front of Apple stores to get a chance to buy the new iteration of the iPhone. Watching the footage, I kept wondering if the media were showing something generally constrained only to big hipster centers, such as San Francisco, New York and London. So I went on a walk on the day after — a sunny and warm Saturday — around the hip parts of Washington DC, to see for myself if the iPhone 5 hysteria had really hit my neighborhood. What I saw was quite different from what the TV and blogs were showing.
Saturday, September 22nd, 2012, 3:48 PM EST — just a day after iPhone 5 has been released. I’m standing outside the Apple Store in Clarendon — the fancy, affluent and ever growing hip center of Arlington, VA. There are about 10 customers randomly strolling inside the store, and a few others casually exiting, no purchases in hand. The whole scene looks anticlimactic. No cops on stand-by — ready to rein in the crowds; just a few Apple Geniuses in blue T-shirts, and a handful of customers… So much for the iPhone 5 hype in DC.
Fast forward to 8:30 PM EST — the day is nearing its end, but the main street of Georgetown is busy with people. I’m standing outside the original Georgetown Cupcake store on M Street (of TLC TV reality fame). As always, the side street next to the store is packed with eager foodies, waiting for the chance to savor the coveted cupcakes. Many of them have spent about an hour in line, but are still happily taking photos of the lucky ones coming out of the store with the signature pink boxes filled with cupcake delight. Cops are guarding the peace in case the occasional impatient mother and her 3 infants get rowdy as they try to cut the line. Nothing new on M Street — this has been a typical daily sight since the store opened up a few years ago.
The two stores are only about 2 miles apart (see Nokia map below) but the atmosphere is very different. Both of them belong to one of the wealthiest and youngest (and by way of these two qualities, also the hippest) parts of the nation — yet, at the store where hipsters were supposed to be flocking, there are only a few; meanwhile plenty are waiting in line for a cupcake or two.
Why is that discrepancy between reality on TV and reality in my neighborhood happening?
Is it because the citizens of the 4th best place for the rich and young in the nation do not really care so much about the new iPhone — at least not as much as they care for a nice, little, savory cupcake?
Or is it because the media frenzy, driven by clever Apple PR, has been showing images of people flocking to Apple stores only at select locations — stores that historically have been frequented by the biggest concentration of die-hard fanboys?
What have you seen in your own neighborhoods? Are people really rallying to buy the iPhone, as the media would like us to believe? Please share your experiences in the Comments section.