One Australian man is camping in front of Sydney’s flagship Apple store in the hopes of being the first person in the world to get his hands on the new iPhone — and it hasn’t even been announced yet.
On Tuesday morning, entrepreneur and technology journalist Lindsay Handmer staked his claim to a patch of cement outside the downtown store, first spotted by Australian CNET reporter Seamus Byrne, and has spent one night in his tent so far. Australia is often the first country to get Apple products, thanks to the international date line.
The stunt is intended to promote his online secondhand technology marketplace, mysparetech.com, which also launched Tuesday. While sleeping rough, Handmer will be fundraising for Mission Australia, a service that helps the homeless. If he can manage to buy the first new iPhone, he’s also going to auction it off for the charity.
Starting a sales website requires a critical mass of people, and he thought camping out at Apple would be a good way to generate some publicity. “I thought I was really original … and then I googled it, and people have done it in every [Apple] line for the past few years,” he laughed.
Handmer could be living on the streets of Sydney for weeks, although he hopes the new smartphone will go on sale around Sept. 18. “Apple has done things in the exact same way over the past few years. I suspect that it’s going to be the same,” he said. “I’m here until they try and get rid of me or until I buy the first phone.”
So, what are his predictions for the Apple announcement that should come Sept. 10 at around 3 a.m. AEST? “An iPhone 6S and 6S Plus would be my guess,” he said. “There’s the Force Touch screen that seems to be the big thing, upgraded camera, and a bunch of little improvements. The S series phone always seems to be the one where they make improvements.”
It could be a tough wait until he finds out first hand. While it’s sunny in Sydney this week, it’s also quite chilly. “I’ve had a few regrets along the way. It’s an up and down process. I’ve only been here 24 hours now,” he said.
He’s not 100% sure if it’s legal to sleep here or not. Last night, a police car pulled in as he was setting up his tent. Two policemen got out, but they went into McDonald’s and didn’t give him a second glance.
For now, it’s just him out there. Once there’s more of a line, Handmer has some ideas for how to pass the time — he’s got some flashing party lights, and maybe they’ll get some music going.
He’s also been using the website Airtasker to outsource a few important jobs. Someone is coming by at 9 a.m. AEST to mind his spot while he gets some breakfast. A 24-hour McDonald’s with a bathroom is conveniently close to the Apple Store, and there are a couple of gyms around where he can take a shower. His fiancée is also going to come join him on the weekend.
Handmer’s met some interesting people so far, but he didn’t factor in that the Apple Store is right next to a busy bus stop. Still, he thinks he got eight hours sleep last night, despite the fact that Apple’s lights make it seem like the middle of the day in his tent. At about 11 a.m. AEST, the sun pokes through the skyscrapers, he said, so he’s going to recline his chair and take a nap.
The Apple Store staff are a bit disappointed though, because Handmer actually has a Dell computer and an HTC smartphone with him at the campsite. “I think Apple make great products, but I guess I like the more technical stuff. Android, for those types of things.”
“Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against people buying Apple products, I just prefer something different,” he said. “I just tend to opt for the more affordable side of stuff.”
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