iPhone 5S on sale today: Want to make a quick £500? Join the queue

Jamie Lewis uncovers the lucrative business of being at the front of the Apple store line

A woman poked her head through the outer shell of our tent. “Are you waiting for the new iPhone?” My companion’s response was emphatic: “No.”

I spent two nights on the cold pavement outside Apple’s Regent Street store with the hardcore queuers, camping out to be the first to get their hand on the highly-anticipated iPhone 5S, which goes on sale at 8am this morning.

Photos of queueing consumers have become a familiar part of the hype surrounding any Apple launch, usually accompanied by expressions of amazement at the devotion of the tech firm’s so-called “fanboys”, or derision at their willingness to give up days of their lives to get gadgets slightly earlier than their friends.

But my investigation, unscientific as it may have been, suggests many Apple queuers have just as much interest in making a quick buck as they do in exploring the iPhone 5S’s new features. The frenzy surrounding the launch offers plenty of opportunities for money-making – not least from selling your place in the queue to wealthier Apple devotees unwilling to spend days waiting in the September cold.  

The queue outside the flagship Regent Street store consists of two lines. Directly outside the Apple store is the first part, where the first eight people are allowed to queue. The second part lies a few dozen yards up the road and round a corner.

Apple privately hire out use of this road and its cycle lane in anticipation of queuers, the majority of whom arrive around 12 hours before the device is actually available. Those in the second queue are likely to receive the phone just a few hours after those at the front.

The first queue is where the money lies. A few people talk to the frontrunners, looking to get themselves a phone at a massively inflated cost. Rumours of a man who sold his seat as the frontrunner a few years ago for an astonishing £8,000 resonate in the ears of those nearer the Apple store’s doors.

One such “broker” offered a queuer £5,000 for two phones on the condition he did eventually manage to sell them. There was no money up front to be bartered for. Of course, he was turned down but more came with offers of money in the thousands to the select few nearest the store doors.

I was placed sixth in the queue, and was offered £500 to give up my seat 30 minutes before the store opened.

Beyond the actual phones, the number of other brands couriering free food was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Food from Greggs, Dominos, Nandos, Subway was shipped in. A drinks company had sent round two crates of their product. All in the hope that a press photographer would snap the queuers consuming their produce.

Noah Green, 17, the man at the front of the queue today, was wearing a bright orange shirt which advertises an app. He was paid a three-figure sum to get the brand some free marketing.

Two others, second and third in the queue, are running a liveblog for the Daily Mirror’s website on their progress. They are also getting paid.

The media will, as they do every year, label these people as fanboys to be shunned by society, because that’s what sells papers. From what I can see, they are simply young men that meet once a product launch to drink beer, discuss video games and make some money at the same time.

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright and Bianca Miller in the final of The Apprentice
tvMark Wright and Bianca Miller fight for Lord Sugar's investment
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor winner Ben Haenow has scored his first Christmas number one
music
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
News
i100
Extras
indybest
News
peopleLiam Williams posted photo of himself dressed as Wilfried Bony
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice finalists Mark Wright and Bianca Miller
tvBut who should win The Apprentice?
News
The monkey made several attempts to revive his friend before he regained consciousness
video
Extras
indybest
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Support Analyst - Bristol

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An IT Support Analyst is required to join the ...

    Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

    £50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

    Ashdown Group: Part time Network Support Analyst / Windows Systems Administrat

    £30 per hour: Ashdown Group: An industry leading and well established business...

    Day In a Page

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
    Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

    Marian Keyes

    The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

    Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

    Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
    Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

    Rodgers fights for his reputation

    Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
    Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

    Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

    'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
    Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick