iPhone 5 Launch: Apple Accused Of Ignoring Queue To Find Its Own First Owners

Sydney's flagship Apple Store threw its doors open at 8am this morning to the sound of thunderous applause. Those at the front of the queue who had been queueing for three days entered the store, weary, ready to collect their prize: the world's first iPhone. But that's not how it went down. Two others, James and Tamsyn, walked out of the store as the world's first owners instead, despite the fact that they were 30 people away from the front. Did Apple snub the front of the queue to find its own world's first owners?

To understand this bizarre episode, we need to go back in time.

Three days ago, a team of guys from Mobile Phone Finder -- a phone comparison website -- pitched up camp outside the George Street Apple Store. The gimmick? They wanted to get the world's first iPhone 5 and give it away to one of their readers. Not a bad prize and a nice competition idea.

They camped out for three days in the cold and rainy weather of Sydney as the line slowly grew behind them, until it was snaking across three city blocks.

James and Tamsyn stand in line before launch, but not at the front

17 hours before launch, James and Tamsyn arrived. They were no stranger to this caper. They camped out for the iPhone 4S launch, and this time they came prepared with sleeping bags, deck chairs and even a petrol generator to power their phones.

I spoke to James and Tamsyn in the queue, and they were happy to be there as part of the event. They told me that they come for the spectacle, not to be first. They both agreed that they didn't want to be part of the media circus with cameras getting shoved in their faces, they were just happy to be apart of a celebration of the company they loved. They looked longingly at the doors of the Apple Store waiting for them to be flung open. The amount of people between them and the door? Roughly 30.

Flash forward to 30 minutes later, and James and Tamsyn are trotted out as the first iPhone 5 owners in the world. How did that happen when they weren't even first?

Fred Schebesta is the director of Mobile Phone Finder -- the company that had put 5 of their own people at the very front of the line three days earlier -- and he tells us his account. Were they cheated out of the world's first iPhone?

Fred has told me that the Finder guys were "aggressively held back" once they entered the store by who they claim to be Apple PR staff. James and Tamsyn passed them by and before they knew it, the two people who were far from first in the queue walked out with the world's first iPhone 5.

Fred says he's disappointed by the behaviour:

We wanted to be recognised as the first but Apple just chose what they want to do. it's harsh when you queue and you don't actually get to buy.

Apple won't comment officially on the matter, but rumours surrounding the launch of the iPhone 5 point to the fact that Apple didn't want it becoming a commercial exercise for another company to piggyback on.

Fred is organising the London iPhone 5 line for Mobile Phone Finder, too, and he's already placed a call to them warning that Apple will find their own first iPhone 5 owners. We'll see how it goes down when it launches in a few hours.

Stay tuned for video of what really when down in the Sydney Apple Store soon.



    A friend of mine at work went to the opening of a store at Blacktown at 7am and picked up an iPhone 5 then, so none of these people were 'first' anyway.

      And on that very same fateful day, no f*cks were given

        That too.

          ha, yes... exactly.
          who the f*ck cares about being the first to walk out with an item that will number in the 10s of millions anyway.


    did a genius at least give them a high 5 and slap on the back for being so awesome?

      When people wonder why no one lines up for the phones of other companies they fail to realise that the not-lining-up behaviour is part of the reason they get those phones instead.

    These people inspire me.......

    This is what should happen to people who claim "First!"

    Who the hell lines up for a phone?

    Jesus Christ...

      i doubt it..

        a bunch of idiots....

      FOR THREE DAYS????!???!?

      Perhaps for the iPhone 5 they could replace Facetime with Facepalm?

        I thought Jesus Christ layed down for three days.

      Jesus wouldn't touch an iPhone... he's got a Samsung...

        sumone owns this man a back rub, so much win

          He wouldn't own either because they are both corrupt money hungry

      Baffles me as well, everyone's going to have it in a week's time...

        everyone? bold statement! I think a better statement would be all the apple fanboys who care more about a phones brand than the features will have it in a weeks time.

          Couldn't have said it any better myself

      Jesus doesn't need a phone

        Agreed, he's omnipresent, although I expect that's not much use for web-surfing.

      He was first in the queue for resurrection

    Apple would have been OK with such piggybacking if they had been offered a 30% cut, I reckon.

    Is that Brian Mannix from Uncanny Xmen holding a camera in the background?

      Poor old Brian has to moonlight as a cameraman since he no longer has guest appearances on Spicks and Specks

    I recall a statement from Apple about taking action against organisations using the launch for self promotion. Seems like Mobile Phone Finder didn't get the memo.

    Well... according to Apple maps, they were the first in line!

    I don't really see why they decided they were first in the world anyway, there are hundreds of Mobile carrier stores open at 8am this morning, in the same timezone, selling out the iPhone 5!

    - MPF had 5 people at the front of the line
    - James and Tamsyn were 'roughly30' back in line
    - where are the other 25 outraged people?

      ^ This..

      Apple have proven, yet again, how utterly immature they and their products truly are.

    This whole lining up bit would make an AWESOME Onion article:

    "First people to buy iPhone 5 suddenly realise that's 3 days of their life they'll never get back"

      I challenge you to name 3 days that you would get back.

      Under any circumstances, at any point in history.


        I don't quite understand your question, but sure:

        1) You've just been in a car crash and you're bleeding to death. The end is certainly near. When all of a sudden MacGuyver comes up. He patches up the bleeding with a sheet of paper, tar and wax he's dug out of his ear. By doing so, you're able to crawl to a hospital and your life is saved. You die the next day by being hit by a falling shark. Therefore you've extended your life by 1 day and have got back a day you'd never have otherwise.

        2) You're in the jungle and have been bitten by a poisonous snake. You're minutes away from death when you find a sterile needle and a vaccine. You're saved by sheer luck, but savage natives eat you the next day. Another day retrieved.

        3) You're falling from the sky without a parachute, unable to do anything. The ground is coming up closer. All of a sudden the protagonist from Saints Row III dives out of your falling plane and rescues you. You survive, but the next day line up to buy an iPhone 5 and are stabbed. Day gained.

        Let's not get started on what would happen if you discovered immortality..

          You made me laugh

      They work for a tech company with laptops and internet connection... they were just working while lining up, that's the point of the media campaign for them. Apple also got more media coverage out of them too with them lining up so early, symbiotic.

    Why oh why. Its a phone. To anyone who waits to be the first in line for a phone... you're a tool.

      Idk, whatever makes someone happy. If they feel some sort of fulfillment doing this its their choice.

    1st wanker???

      That's the reply he'd get after telling his grandchildren..... I was the first.... so what wanker

        haha it's like me telling my kids I lined up back in 2001 for 3 days to get my hands on a nokia 3315........oh wait that phone had pretictive texts??? But Apple said they invented that? Weird

        "And getting that iPhone 5 first was the best day of my life"
        "What about my birth, dad?"
        "Not even close"

    Hahahaha good job..

    Well, why should Apple allow another company to piggy back off its own PR? These mobilefinder people have a bit of nerve to whinge, they spotted a chance for some cheeky, cheap PR and it didn't come off. Tough.

      Looks like it came off just fine if i am now reading about it....

    Here's the one and only reason to queue up for an iphone - getting to meet the WOZ!


      Most iPhone owners probably wouldn't know who Wozniak is...

    HA! I work in a phone store. Had mine at 6pm, night before launch!

      What if I told you that there are other people who work in phone stores and probably got it ahead of you?

    Pretty cool that Brisbane had Woz there. Apart from that, soo many sheep

    It's just a phone the fact ppl queue is laughable

    I was in the Telstra Broadway Sydney store queue at 6.50am - by 7.15 the Telchoice outlet 15 metres away had already sold 7 iphones ! Meanwhile there was a hundred people upstairs waiting outside the apple store!

      shouldve walked past them and waved it infront of their face

    Charlestown store in newcastle NSW opened at 8am sharp and the first person walked out in under 5 minutes. I had mine running at about 8:17am..... who was first?.....lol

    Mine turned up at my door at 12.15pm

      I've never commented on Gizmodo before, but you win. Hands down.

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