Why line up when you can do battle in court?

People are already queuing up for the new iPhone
I’m seldom on time.

That doesn’t mean I’m really late either. Rather, I’m generally arriving at things between one and three minutes late.

The cause for this is that I’m usually trying to cram something in before I leave the house – 30 seconds' more TV, an extra lap on the Playstation, finish a load of washing… always something.

Occasionally I might be five-or-so minutes early.

And one time I accidentally turned up an hour early to something because I read the time wrong.

But never. Repeat: NEVER, have I queued up for something overnight. Let alone two nights in advance.

But, to my absolute horror, on Wednesday this week, there were already folk queuing up to make sure they were among the first to get their hands on a new iPhone 4S.

This Apple phenomenon is really quite something. It’s staggering that people are willing to risk sleeping on the pavement on George St, in the middle of Sydney’s CBD just to get a new mobile phone.

It’s not even free! And it will hardly be a collector’s item – it’s a mortal lock the iPhone 5 will be out next October thereby rendering the 4S obsolete.

Yet these crazies don’t care. They sit there with their director’s chairs, their sleeping bags, their Apple products and a few other small goods, and watch the world go by for over 48 hours.

Why on Earth would you do that?? In technology-speak, the 4S is barely an upgrade on the 4. It’s going to be obsolete in a year. And it’ll cost a fair whack of cash.

Maybe these guys are hoping this will be their “15 minutes of fame” moment. They hope they’ll get their photo in the newspaper or appear on the nightly TV news.

Either way, I think they’re muppets.

But at least these people will actually get the product they’re after, unlike the poor folk just down the street at the Samsung store.

A bunch of like-minded-crazies have also set up shop outside the Samsung technology store in the hope of being among the first to collect a new Samsung device: the Tab 10.1.

Good luck getting this in Australia, folks
The problem is, the Australian Federal Court joined its counterparts in nine other countries in handing down a ban on the sale of Samsung's latest tablet in Australia.

Apple has claimed Samsung's Galaxy range of tablets of infringing on its patents around touch-screen technology.

Sorry, campers, but Apple’s patent pursuits seem to be paying dividends.

In fact, putting on my Wall St Journal hat ever so briefly, it’s a fascinating trend we're seeing in global markets. Companies like Google and Apple are on a massive acquisition push to acquire patents.

That’s right, they’re not just acquiring software, personnel or hardware; they’re acquiring patents – essentially a legal right for a monopoly on a certain piece of IP for a limited time.

Google, for example, paid $12.5Bn to acquire Motorola Wireless. It wasn’t even vaguely interested in the actual products Motorola creates – it was after Motorola’s patents; some 24,500 of them.

As The Economist put it: “In the Motorola acquisition, Google bought a patent portfolio and got a mobile phone business thrown in for free.”

Apple followed suit when it partnered with Microsoft and RIM to spend $4.5 billion for 6,000 patents owned by Nortel, a bankrupt Canadian manufacturer of telecommunications gear.

So keep your eyes peeled, people. While a few hundred muppets will waste a couple of days of their life lining up to get their hands on a new phone, the real business in taking place in the courtroom.

And with its 24,500 new patents, maybe Google will be the next player to challenge Apple in the tablet world.

Sorry, Samsung campers.


Cpad said…
its like geek christmas Danger Mouse! don't you remember being a kid waiting up for santa claus?? Of course you could just get a good night sleep and wake up to easy access to the presents the next day but you revelled in the experience of waiting up to get a glimpse of the fat red man. why lose that feeling?? some of us just want to live that dream a little longer.