Making people wait in line for something is one of the most common and most effective tricks to generate buzz and take advantage of the rule of social proof. As is well-documented in Dr. Robert Cialdini’s excellent book, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”, social proof is a huge factor when it comes to influencing others.
Waiting lists are nothing new. Even waiting lists for apps are nothing new. Gmail didn’t let you in as a cold visitor, at first. You needed an invite. They weren’t hard to get, but it did create social proof. Pinterest had a waiting list when it launched. On the iOS App Store most people are probably familiar with Mailbox, the app that was purchased by Dropbox earlier this year. It had a waiting list.
People will always bitch about waiting lists, but they are generally smart influence tactics. They also have engineering justification since no new app wants to be overwhelmed by demand such that the service is crushed. We don’t want BBM crashing on us, do we?
So between engineering requirements and influence tactics, a waiting list is actually smart. But don’t expect people to understand this. People love to complain. And only because BlackBerry has been on the butt end of many jokes lately, people are going to furthermore assume that BlackBerry is stupid for creating a waiting list. Those same people will generally be waiting in line.
Something to ponder for a Tuesday morning …