The blog of Tokyo based photographer and photojournalist, Damon Coulter

The Apple Of Their Eye

Had a busy morning with kids things so kind of missed the big and much anticipated launch of the new Apple iphone 5 at Ginza;  like the iphone4S Japanese launch images I took there last Autumn. Could make it, a little late to be honest for good images, for the same event in the store in Shibuya where the people were lined up along the road for a couple of hundred metres.

Each time one of them bought a phone and walked out of the store the staff cheered and clapped. The smiles on the faces of the buyers when this happened said it all really: they felt like celebrities for a moment, the staff fawned over them and they walked tall and proud with their little white logo bag dangling among the slipping bags, camp chairs and  other paraphernalia of the true devotee.

I sound sarcastic of course, it was all very nice, if a little American and people seemed to genuinely like spending money after waiting in line to buy a phone. The Apple employees came out and handed out bottles of water. A stack of umbrellas stood at the head of the queue due to a chance of rain and even if you were a dyed in the wool cynic you’d have to admit Apple does not just take your money. When you hand it over, even before you hand it over, they are polite and helpful, happy to go that extra mile and though you walk out of the stores considerably poorer than when you went in, it is probably safe to say you don’t feel you’ve been shaken-down.

When the same event happens in the UK stores later today, I do hope the contractually-required exuberance is just a little forced and ironic though because if people do genuinely believe it really is that much fun to work there (which apparently it isn’t) and if it really is that much of a big deal to buy an iphone  (which it isn’t) I am worried about the future of our species and our current place in the world.

I love my iphone, don’t get me wrong and my wife would call me an Apple fanboy. But I am not. I like the things Apple make because they work; I like the iphone more than other telephones because it does what I want, which to her is a strange thing because she sees no differences between them: they all do what she wants from them. Believe me it wasn’t the branding I want, it’s the absence of it. I wanted  a phone that was going to do only what I wanted it to do and not have a million unremovable apps installed because my phone company was intent on guiding my every action on the bloody thing into what they though I should need. I have had experience with Japanese software before that seems to be all about turning me into some identikit consumer for the partners of the company who own the code I use. Apple doesn’t do that (yet, though I think the removal of Google maps is a big mistake and I hate the fact that in a year or even less all my stuff will probably not work on my phone because it is not running the latest operating system and I will be forced to upgrade). At the moment, my phone is mine alone and though the battery life is laughable, the and the screen too small to really do much on, and the cost, in Japan at least, exorbitant, I think my phone is great.

But it is a phone at the end of the day, a useful one that enables me to keep in touch with events that are happening in real time which as a photographer ,out and about, is worth the cost alone. Nothing though, nothing, would make me camp out on the street for a week before the shops started selling it. Really have these people got nothing better to do?



One response

  1. Good read. Glad you went and glad your writeup was the only story I read on the launch here 🙂
    I’m not on the list for one by the way 🙂

    September 21, 2012 at 4:29 pm

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