Sunday, 13 July 2008

"iPhone Jonny" a Kiwi Marketing Gimmick

It seems the media-friendly Jonny Gladwell, who waited in line for 60 hours to buy the world's first iPhone 3G, was in fact a marketing plant for theYellow Pages website.

The 22-year old University student, who was first in line to buy the new 3G iPhone, was apparently paid $50 an hour to wait in line outside Vodafone's Queen Street store in Auckland, New Zealand. He was also given $1,000 spending money to keep him going over the 3 days.

It's been revealed that advertising agency Aim Proximity was behind the campaign (on behalf of their client Yellow Pages), to demonstrate "how long you could survive on the streets using nothing but Yellow Pages online".

Jonny's long outdoors wait and his final purchase of the world's first iPhone 3G gained worldwide media exposure for him, as well as for other front-of-liners like Evert Bruyns from who was giving his new 3G iPhones away, and Californian Luke Soules who wanted to buy one just so he could take it apart for his website

The creative head of the Aim Proximity agency, Dave King, says he was "amazed that no-one caught on"... although to be fair, "iPhone Jonny" did blatantly lie to reporters (including live on TV3 to Sunrise journo Jono Hutchison) when asked whether he was "a real iPhone buyer", or a PR plant.

Media reports noted that Jonny was actually forced to give up his new iPhone3G cell phone to Yellow Pages, so the company can give it away in a competition (although their website does claim they've "got him another one").

And the news hasn't all been good for Apple and its global mobile network partners. New Zealand's Vodafone has received worldwide media coverage for offering the most expensive iPhone plans in the entire world (combined with some seriously average data/voice/text bundles).

The next generation iPhone 3G has also been criticised for having pretty poor battery life. Reviewers note it doesn't fare much worse than other smartphones operating on the faster 3G network, but the new iPhone's battery life is much shorter than the original version, if you're using 3G.

I think I'll be hanging on to my ipod touch & Sony Ericsson cell phone combo until the "next-next generation" version hits New Zealand in a year or two. Vodafone NZ's outrageously priced plans and appalling 3G network coverage (especially in the South Island) make the iPhone 3G a non-starter at the moment.

Overseas mobile networks are offering much more attractive packages for a lower monthly price, with some like AT&T in the United States throwing in free WiFi at Starbucks stores (located on almost every second corner in American cities).

* NBR: Jonny Gladwell was paid to queue for the iPhone
* Sunday Star Times: The Kiwi and the world's first iPhoney
* iPhone Jonny's blog

* Stuff: The wait is over for world's first iPhone 3G shoppers
* Gizmodo: The Auckland iPhone 3G Party - In Pictures

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