MOSCOW (Reuters) – Hundreds of Russians braved the cold and rain to queue for days outside a Moscow phone store ahead of the release of the new Apple iPhones on Friday, but when the doors opened none stepped in to buy.
Instead, they tried in vain to sell their queue places to genuine Apple enthusiasts outside the first Russian store to sell the new iPhones XS and XS Max in central Moscow.
Banking on strong enthusiasm for the phones, which have drawn days-long queues outside stores in Singapore, Sydney and elsewhere, the queue sellers set the price of the first place at 450,000 roubles ($7,000).
Reductions were offered for places further down the line, but in the end all went unsold as shoppers were happy to wait for the chance to buy the 87,000 rouble ($1,300) iPhone XS or 96,000 rouble ($1,500) XS Max.
The store manager called out ticket numbers to invite in the first buyers, but his calls went unanswered.
Eventually, ticket holder number 247 came to the door and Russian photographer Anatoly Doroshchenko, who had arrived that morning and didn’t pay for the right to queue-jump, became the first purchaser in Russia of one of the new phones.
For the group of queue jump sellers, some of whom ripped up their tickets and adverts selling their places, the exercise wasn’t a complete waste of time.
“It is cold. We are not hungry, but it is wet and windy,” one seller called Vladimir told Reuters.
“This situation unites people. We had cool conversations with everyone. Of course we did not make any money, but it was fun indeed.”
($1 = 65.8057 roubles)
(Reporting by Moscow bureau; Writing by Patrick Johnston in LONDON; Editing by Hugh Lawson)