Sunday 21 September 2014

Hello, queues: The iPhone is not a cat

Haze and triple-digit PSI.

Long, unruly queues all over Singapore for something that sold out quickly.

Police were called.

It was like June 2013 all over again.

Except the haze isn’t as bad this year. Touch wood that the Indonesian farmers haven’t burned yet.

Last year, the queues were for the McDonald’s Hello Kitty Fairy Tales toy.

Oh, Ugly Duckling Hello Kitty, you’re so the opposite of ugly. You’re worth sucking unhealthy air for.

After years of causing catty chaos with their Hello Kitty promotions, McDonald’s finally got into the 21st century and let people pre-order the Bubbly World toys online this June.

And thus the Kitty queues were quelled.

Last week, the overnight queues were not for Hello Kitty but for buses going to Johor where the MDA-restricted documentary, To Singapore, With Love, was screened on Friday as part of the Freedom Film Festival.

I’m kidding. The queues were for the iPhone 6.

At least Singaporeans got their priorities right.

If you want to watch To Singapore, With Love in the country mentioned in the title, all you have to do is matriculate.

But be careful not to matriculate every day or you may go blind.

On Friday, MDA said it “recognises that lecturers and students of media or related courses at tertiary institutions may require access to a wider variety of films...

“Some leeway is provided to these institutions to screen films for educational purposes, on condition that these films have either been previously classified by the MDA, or prior approval has been sought from the MDA before the films are acquired.”

You see how clever MDA is?

After making the mistake of stirring interest in the Tan Pin Pin-directed documentary by giving it a “Not Allowed for All Ratings (NAR)” classification, it’s now attempting to kill interest by making it “educational”.

Talk about box-office poison.

At the end of the day, To Singapore, With Love is still just a documentary. It’s not Guardians Of The Galaxy. It’s not even a documentary about the making of Guardians Of The Galaxy.

Not a gun-wielding raccoon on a waking tree in sight.

Anyway, someone will eventually upload To Singapore, With Love on YouTube, where you can also watch Tan’s previously best known work, Singapore GaGa, for free.

You can even watch it on your new iPhone 6 if you’re one of those who successfully queued for it.

The rest of us can watch it on our antediluvian iPhone 5s and Android phones like animals.

Sorry if I sound a little bitter. I came close to pre-ordering the iPhone 6 at the Apple online store but hesitated and... I don’t want to talk it.

Like the Kitty Hello Bubbly World Collection, you could also pre-order the iPhone 6 online.

But while the toys sold out online in a week, the iPhone 6 was gone within minutes.

One SingTel customer who pre-registered his interest in an iPhone 6 Plus was so upset about not getting his device that he started an online petition to protest.

The petition asked for pre-registered SingTel customers to be allowed to buy the iPhone 6 Plus this weekend “and not iPhone 6”.

The petition also said: “We do not want to queue for the remaining stock of iPhone 6 and wish to buy iPhone 6 Plus at appointment booking timings.”

The iPhone 6 Plus is apparently the iPhone 5s Gold of this year.

Another telco, M1, suspended online pre-orders for 12 hours after a customer stumbled onto a security loophole.

Strange to say that McDonald’s might have handled the online thing a bit better than the telcos. At least the fast food chain quelled the queues.

I actually think it’s less irrational to queue for a Hello Kitty toy than for an iPhone.

And I’m not just saying that because I like Hello Kitty ironically.

Each Hello Kitty toy was available at McDonald’s for only a week. Once it was sold out, it was pretty much gone for good.

The black Singing Bone Hello Kitty toy, which I so desperately wanted, is now priced from $13.99 to $88 on eBay. If I had managed to get it last year at McDonald’s, it would’ve cost me only $4.60 with a meal.

Now I wish I had started a petition to protest against me not getting the Singing Bone Hello Kitty.

As for the iPhone, if it’s sold out, new stock will eventually be available.

Are living in such an accelerated culture that we can’t wait for anything any more?

Actually, queuing is also a form of waiting, so the joke’s on the queuers.

So if you insist on queuing to satisfy your desire for instant gratification, expect bad things to happen.

As I’ve just scientifically established, iPhone queuers are even less rational than Hello Kitty queuers.

Police were called on Friday to settle iPhone queue disputes at Tampines Mall and 112 Katong. Apple retailer Nubox said on Facebook that the iPhone 6 launch at the Katong mall outlet was cancelled to “protect the safety of our customers and staff”.

That didn’t make the people who queued overnight in Katong very happy. Perhaps they can try their luck on eBay, where a 128GB iPhone 6, which retails at $1,288 without contract, was auctioned off yesterday for $1,650.

Wah. That’s an even higher profit margin than for the Singing Bone Hello Kitty.

Hmmm. Maybe those iPhone queuers aren’t so irrational after all.

I wonder if I can find an iPhone 6 in JB.

I hope the $13.99 Hello Kitty is still available on eBay.

Anyone queuing for the Apple Watch?

- Published in The New Paper, 21 September 2014