But what's more interesting from a psychological perspective is how each new iPhone release ups the fanatic interest of more and more people. Last week the online reservation system for the phones crashed within hours of going up because 600,000 orders hit it so fast. Then huge crowds turned out worldwide to buy them today, the day of the launch.
More than a need to have the new cool toy, people are clamoring for easier ways to communicate and connect. With each new iPhone release consumers are compelled to have a better device with upgraded apps and features that help them to be social in better and faster ways.
Beyond this, the sense of community between iPhone users to share tips, geek out on technology and have fun is a reflection of types of people attracted to the Apple tribe. Apple understands the experience economy and Apple loyalists love Apple's products because they always deliver better experiences.
Last night in Boulder people began lining up outside the Apple Store at 4pm. They were greeted with an established queue and bottled water provided by the Apple store. By 5:30 Matt Emmi, an avid Apple customer, had set up a huge Samsung screen that campers used to play video games and their kids used to watch movies like Wall-E. Others were already sharing iPads, playing board games and going on food runs for strangers next to them in line. Many people camping out were not customers, they just wanted to share the experience with their friends who were buying iPhones. This set the context for a community to share an event.
By 11pm last night there were about 100 people in line. That increased to over 500 by 6am. When the 'Black Curtain Hiding Awesomeness" (as some labeled it) fell to reveal the new Apple store window display at 7am, there were close to 1,000 people in line.
Right before 7am Fiona Schlachter came to visit friends in line and brought a giant bag of bagels to share with anyone who wanted one. Apple provided coffee first to customers in the 'reserved' line and then to those in the 'unreserved' line.
The Apple store launched the iPhone 4 with fanfare including a ceremonial reception of Michael Sitarzewski and Dave Taylor, the first customers in line. This was immediately followed by overjoyed Apple specialists handing out dozens of umbrellas to the crowd for shelter from the sun.
If you didn't know better, you would think that the Apple employees had just received iPhone 4s from Oprah herself. I have never seen such enthusiasm from retail employees, especially while they are going above and beyond in how they help their customers. This is why the long line was filled with people from as far away as Michigan and Puerto Vallarta who scheduled trips to be at this store for the iPhone 4 launch.
Michael Sitarzewski, who has been at every iPhone launch at the Boulder Apple store, summed up the event this way, "Buying an iPhone at a store is a purchase. Buying an iPhone at the Boulder Apple store is a community event."
I wonder how many other brands can claim loyalty anywhere near the level that Apple inspires in customers like Sitarzewski - who immediately reserved his phone online the moment it was announced and then spent a 14 hour night on hot concrete to buy their latest product. Probably not many. Apple excels in maximizing the experience economy.