November 3rd is the day many iPhone fans have been waiting for. The fortunate ones were able to preorder the phone last week and get a delivery estimate for launch day. Those who could afford to wait in line in front of a store early on Friday hoped to buy one on the spot after having missed the preorder window.
In France, however, things are different. The iPhone X day was probably one of the quietest iPhone releases in iPhone history. There were no lines — well, not really — but that’s not because people didn’t want the phone. That’s because Apple doesn’t have any iPhone X stock to sell to walk-in customers right now. And that may have nothing to do with Apple’s rumored iPhone X production issues.
With a mid-November preorder date locked in, I came to Paris thinking I’ll have no problem scoring an iPhone X early on Friday. My original plan was to scout two of the three Apple stores in the city and then line up at some point during the night.
But as we got closer to Friday, I soon learned there will be no stock for customers who don’t have preorder pickups. Apple store employees told me that, and I heard the same line from other retailers who offer preorders but don’t sell the phone in stores on November 3rd.
French sites said a few days ago that Apple won’t sell the iPhone X In stores on launch day to discourage the formation of lines, in the wake of the recent terror attacks in the city. Reports said the same thing about Belgium.
As a result, my plans changed. I still planned to check out the Opera and Louvre locations, and then attempt to buy the handset. Because I was hopeful. But I only left on what turned out to be a rather short-lived adventure around 6:00 AM local time.
I hit the Opera store (above) first, where less than 20 people were waiting in line, as Apple employees were seen inside preparing the launch. As you can see in the image below, it all looks as if Apple made all the necessary preparations for managing lines. But that was likely a precaution in the event people would actually want to queue to see the iPhone.
The Opera store is about a 10-minute walk from the Apple’s Louvre store. I was there by 6:30 only to find four people in line, outside the museum. You could only walk inside if you had a preorder.
After about an hour of waiting, during which time 20 to 30 people joined the line, Apple employees came out to let us know the store will soon open, but only preorder units will be available. Walk-in customers could still see the phones, but there will be no sales for them.
Once inside the Louvre, or beneath it, I saw the same thing. The Louvre store had the queue maze set up, but there were no lines. Those people who preordered the phone got to pick theirs, while the few others who lined up outside the museum could play with the handset.
Unlike the lines in other parts of the world, and all the Apple cheering that goes with it, this probably was the simplest, saddest iPhone launch ever. That seems strange for a phone like the iPhone X, but it has nothing to do with the handset itself. Try to preorder one in France right now, and you’ll get an early December estimate, if not later. It’s all because of the heightened security in the city. And that kind of tension is more than clear once you see the increased security at the Louvre’s entrance and the armed police patrolling the store beneath the museum. By the way, no other Louvre store was open when Apple let us in. Add to that Apple’s own security wielding metal detectors as you walk into a store, and you’ll understand why Apple decided to postpone the actual in-store launch. It’ll be weeks until the phone will actually be available to walk-in customers.
As I walked empty-handed back home, I passed the Opera store once again. There were people inside, but not the huge iPhone X crowds seen in other places of the world where the iPhone X launched today.