Video: The psychology of lining up for an iPad

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Video: The psychology of lining up for an iPad

Striking similarities with football and fashion.

Why would 200 people line up on a pretty miserable day by Sydney standards, to buy a computer?

Today, the Apple faithful braved the cold to buy an iPad.

Analyst group Gartner calls it the beginning of a new category of computing - the "media" tablet. Gartner expects ten million of them to ship in 2010.

Even before today's queues, some Apple fans purchased the device by flying to the United States.  Today, iTnews spoke to consumer psychologist Michael Edwardson about what compels people to fly or queue to be the first to own a device.

Edwardson said it was a mix of herd mentality and a manufactured notion of product scarcity.

A queue forms, he said, out of a sense that you'll miss out if you aren't first in - an urgency Apple have excelled at producing.

"There was a lot of hype built up," he said. "Some people have to be first to own a technology - to be seen as the innovator, but also because of the sense they might miss out."

But why would people line up for a device at the Apple store, when they could have walked into any other participating retailer, like a JB HiFi, and skipped the queue?

It's fashion, Edwardson said.

"I think you would have got to see Apple not only as a technology brand but as a fashion brand," he said.

It's also similar to a person's idolation of a football team, he said.

"Buying your iPad from the Apple Store is about community," he said. It's a bit like being a member of a football team, all wearing the same scarves and hats, supporting the same team. You're queuing up with people who are Apple fans. It's very much about a collective experience."

Edwardson said many brands are taking lessons from Apple's mastery of product hype.

"But you couldn't manufacture this overnight," he said. "It's a long process."

Brand devotion

Adam Ferrier, consumer psychologist and founding partner of advertising company Naked Communications said there are three factors to consider in brand devotion.

The first is the individual incentive: to simply own an iPad.

The second is the social incentive. "I don't think they queue up for the iPad," he said. "They queue for the experience and what it says about them. If they identify themselves as Apple zealots, this reinforces that association."

"Being at the Apple store gives them a sense of ownership of that brand and a story that stays with them for life."

But Ferrier said the third factor is 'ease' - he expects many lined up because they are students, work part time or freelance.

"It wouldn't be a huge sacrifice in time and effort for them," he said.

Video courtesy of PC Authority.

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