Recent Product Releases: Were They Worth The Lines and The Hassle?

By milo on Sep 28, 2010 | 2 Comments

Though we see commercials and prints ads every day, it isn’t too often that we anxiously await the arrival of a new product. Even less often are we willing to camp outside of the local Best Buy for hours (or even days) before the product is released, just to be sure we can get it the moment it’s available for sale. It takes a true piece of innovation (or a lot of excitement built by the manufacturer) to cause monstrous lines to gather in front of stores, patiently awaiting the moment that the doors to unlock and swing open. Today, we remember some of the largest product release gatherings of all time, and salute those troopers who braved rain, cold weather and sometimes violent shoppers—all to bring home their new gadget before anyone else.

Apple iPhone 4


The release of the iPhone 4 on June 24th, 2010 is reported to have caused titanic lines at tech stores around the globe. This is partially due to the fact that Apple does an amazing job hyping up its product releases, and has managed to breed a cult of ravenous fanboys who await the new Apple product with baited breath. CNet reported that those without a pre-order reservation were forced to wait an average of over four hours in line on the release day. “The line [was] hundreds of people deep at the Stockton Street store in San Francisco, wrapping around two city blocks,” the story recalls.

In China, the crowds were far worse. reports that “…Pre-orders for Apple’s smartphone topped out at 50,000 and thousands of people reportedly waited in line for up to two days to buy this hot, new handset.”

Microsoft XBOX 360


In the months leading up to the release of Microsoft’s XBOX 360 game system, the company went on a hype-campaign that included pre-order lists and midnight releases at select shops around the world. The marketing worked beautifully and the game, as well as the official release day, was a smash-hit. On the UK release date of the new gaming system, shops were literally flooded with customers, and sold out of their supply within minutes of opening.

“More than 200 fans braved the London drizzle for nine hours… outside Game in Oxford Street yesterday,” the Times reported. Despite the miserable conditions, Kevin Sage, a 33 year old DJ from South London recalled his experience in line as a positive one. “We have been waiting in this queue for hours and hours and now I can’t wait to get home and play this game,” he said. “I’ve made so many new friends through this. It’s a surreal experience and I will remember this for the rest of my life.”

Apple iPad


Any company that can inspire two mob scenes for their products within the same year must be doing something right. Leave it to Apple to take that award, as their release of the completely new iPad tablet computer caused raging crowds and huge lines at stores worldwide. The CSMonitor reported on the scene at the iPad’s debut in London. “Reports describe “screams and cheers,” an “onslaught of questions and flash photography,” and the simple declaration from one journalist that “London’s Apple iPad launch was crazy.”

And London was far from being the only country swamped by Apple customers on the hunt for an iPad. Many countries were affected by huge rushes on the day of the device’s release, including China and Japan. In fact, Businessweek reports that, “In Tokyo people waited for as long as 40 hours to make a purchase.” Now that’s some determination.

Tickle Me Elmo


Tickle Me Elmo was not a technological wonder-gadget, unlike many of the other items on this list. Instead, the toy was a Christmas-time smash hit for children back in 1996, and as parents caught wind of the latest craze, stores began selling out all across the nation. Mahalo recalls that efforts to obtain the doll often turned violent and were anything but cheerful towards the end of the holiday season. “Shoppers stood in long lines and even physically fought over the doll,” they recall. “Store employees were injured by shoppers in pursuit of the doll… [some were] later resold for up to $1500.” (The original purchase price was somewhere around 30 bucks.) All this for a stuffed animal that laughed.

Sony Playstation 3


Following the legendary Playstation 2 game console (which has been called the most successful console of all time), the release of the Sony Playstation 3 drew tremendous lines of avid gaming fans. ABC remembers the release event that, in some parts of the country, turned  nothing less than violent. “Unruly crowds prompted the closure of two Walmart stores in Palmdale, California, earlier in the week,” they reported. “Skirmishes broke out in front of other U.S. stores as nerves wore thin for shoppers, some of whom had camped out for several days.” Perhaps the harsh reality of the outside world was too much for some of these living room dwellers, who may have been more used to dealing with their controllers than other people.

Halo 3


The Halo series (which recently came out with a new addition called “Reach“) is one of the most popular video game franchises of all time. When the the third installment was released, it was said to be the ending of the main trilogy, causing die-hard fans to scramble to get their hands on a copy of the groundbreaking game. The New York Times reported that fans came out in droves for the midnight release of the game at stores all over America. At one location in Bellevue, Washington, Microsoft founder Bill Gates came out to the debut and shook hands with gamers waiting patiently for the clock to strike 12:01 AM.


2 Comments on “Recent Product Releases: Were They Worth The Lines and The Hassle?”
  1. Aaron says:

    So…were they worth it? What was the point of this article?

  2. Milo says:

    Aaron – that’s for you to decide! It seems that, to many, the lines were worth it. Our goal wasn’t to make the final decision, but rather to illuminate the trend.

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