Why line up when you can do battle in court?
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 guaranteed the iPhone 5 will be out next October thereby rendering the 4S obsolete.
Yet these guys 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.
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-fanatics 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.
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 is 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 M&A 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 fanatics will waste a couple of days of their life lining up to get their hands on a new phone, the real business is taking place in the courtroom.
And with its 24,500 new patents up its sleeve, maybe Google will be the next player to challenge Apple in the tablet world.