Over the last week we've seen a variety of reports on the sales of BlackBerry Z10 handsets. Some people say they've seen lineups. Others say not so much. And still others apparently think that if you don't generate lineups, your product is not in demand.
Case in point: The New York Times published this post on Wednesday. The headline of the article is "Lackluster Start for BlackBerry's New Phone in Canada".
Two main pieces of evidence appear to have driven this conclusion. Exhibit A: The Bell store in Ottawa's Rideau Center sold only 5 Z10s upon opening, and was quiet by 10:30 a.m. along with a Telus store, and smaller kiosks and electronic boutiques. Yet the Apple store had 20 customers in it. Exhibit B: Other media stories suggest there weren't lineups at most stores.
I'm puzzled. I just don't get how someone can write a story about "Lackluster" sales for a device based on early morning sales at a single Bell store, supported by the idea that there weren't many lineups at other stores across the country. I'm especially puzzled by this considering that Rogers was quoted saying, "We've seen great interest in BlackBerry 10 from our customer base" and also considering that every major carrier setup an effective online pre-order service.
But let's step back for a second. Are lineups a measure of success we should be looking at? I don't think so. It's not that cut and dry.
Here's a postulate I'd like to offer: Lineups usually form when more people want something than is potentially unavailable. Supply is thought to be less than demand. The people who lineup believe there is scarcity at play. When lineups do not form it's because this condition is not true.
Seems obvious, right? That's why it's called a postulate. It's based on logic and doesn't require proof.
So does a lineup mean you have a smash hit? No. Lineups just mean people want a product now and are worried they'll have to wait a bit longer if they don't lineup. Often times these lineups are good indicators for success.
Apple has conditioned a lot of people to believe that lineups are essential to success. Clearly the NYT has been indoctrinated into this faulty way of thinking. But much more often a consumer electronics product becomes a hit without us ever witnessing crazy lineups.
Look at Samsung. When they release a new Galaxy phone we tend not to hear about any significant lineups. In fact Samsung goes out of its way to make fun of Apple people for standing in lines. Remember this commercial? (embedded below)
Yes, Samsung sees lineups at some stores, some of the time. I'm not saying Samsung never sees customers get in a line. There are always some lines just like there were for the BlackBerry Z10.
But the absence of lineups are not a useful indicator of success. Have you ever seen someone write about the imminent failure of the Galaxy S3 because most stores had no lineups? Of course not.
There are countless other examples in the consumer electronics field. Lineups for new gadgets are actually not that common. They're only common for iPhones and iPads.
The evidence speaks for itself. Samsung, who is the #1 smartphone vendor in the world, doesn't generate the kind of lineup buzz that Apple-indoctrinated media have come to expect. If they don't need lines, why does BlackBerry?
It's time for people to clue in here. Yes, it's nice to see lineups. It's nice to see people so excited about your products that they'll wait in line to avoid waiting or to be among the first few to own one (novelty).
Lineups are usually a good sign. But the inverse is not true. All Apples are fruits. All fruits are not apples.