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Jaime B's Blog

All-Night Vigil

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Last Wednesday night/Thursday morning I did something I have never done before. I have known friends who stayed up all night waiting to get tickets to that special concert or sporting event, but I'd never done that. I've had friends who spent white nights waiting for product launches. And I'd never done that before either.

Well, I decided I needed to have that experience, so I stayed up all night with some people in San Francisco in front of the Apple Store waiting for the launch of the iPhone 4. My AT&T contract was up, as I had bought my previous iPhone, the 3G, almost two years ago. I knew I was going to get the new iPhone 4 because, as usual, Apple seemed to be ahead of the curve again with such features as a high-definition screen and HD video capability, multitasking, app folders, as well as improved speed and battery life, and a whole new set of apps coming out to run on iOS4, the new iPhone OS.

So, I did the thing I had never done before; and as a result, I got to meet and talk to people I don't usually meet and talk to; I also got to read a lot, and fight off sleep a lot. The crowd was pretty sane, and when morning came, the Apple Store folks, all young and fresh-faced, came out and split us up into two lines: one for those of us who had pre-ordered the phone and another for those they called "walk-ins" (although they hadn't exactly "walked in," having spent the whole cold and foggy night along with the rest of us). They gave us donuts and coffee for the last hour we waited in line, and then, when the doors finally opened at 7:00 a. m., my part was all over in fifteen minutes. I was in the pre-order line, went in with the very first group, and by 7:15, I was out the door again with the new iPhone 4 in my pocket, and a new (and somewhat reluctant) two-year commitment to AT&T.

Perfume releases don't happen this way. The hype is intense for new perfume launches, but not enough people of the sort who prize scent would hang around all night waiting to be the first ones to get their hands on some new Chanel flanker, for example; and perfume shops and department stores don't seem to be able to get a beat cop assigned to the sidewalk outside their stores the night before a launch. (Apple does.)

Yet Apple's fan-base definitely feels a powerful pull whenever some new benchmark product is launched. I have to admit that I'm part of that crowd, with an Apple desktop iMac system, an iPad, and an iPhone in my possession (and a few other accessories, such as my home wi-fi network device, too).

So now I have also had the experience of being an "early-adopter," the name given to people who are the first to buy new technologies. I guess I have been an early adopter of certain Guerlain and Chanel products, as well as Hermès and a few others also. That culture seems a bit more staid and less gung-ho than the new electronics culture. Perfume is indeed an ancient art, and perhaps that is its reason for being less easily thrilling to its devotees than the new technologies that seem to drive market trends more fiercely.

Still, these two worlds are not altogether separate: You know, I'll use that new iPhone 4 to store my perfume database and wardrobe in portable fashion through the MobileMe network, and I'll get my emails from Barneys on it, and I'll check Basenotes on the Tapatalk app, and surf the web for the latest rumors of fragrance launches with it, too. So, it will feed my fragrance obsession as well as my technology jones.

Ars longa, vita brevis, the ancients used to say, and we still quote them; though the artes be different as the centuries slip by, life is still short, and must be kept up with to be enjoyed to the full.


  1. shadesofbleu's Avatar
    I am really wanting an iPhone, but I don't really want ATT service. I keep hoping the rumors I hear about it coming to Verizon are true. One of my friends has an ap called "StarWalk" that I played with for hours the other night! Check it out, if you like star watching ...
  2. Warum's Avatar
    Very interesting post, thank you!

    It reminds me in a way how me and my partner talk about comparison between listening to music played by symphony orchestras + or - opera singers versus music played by today's bands featuring guitars. We invariably come to a point that what is the classy music and education of today was the entertainment in the past. We can compare coming for a concert in a bar to talking during Mozart's concerts or to coming in for one act or one aria to the opera in the XIX century.

    What you're writing about is similar, I think, but (unlike you perhaps) I don't know enough about how the new perfumes were "released" back in the day.

    P.S. I am a mac user but since I live in rural area, AT&T is not an option for me. I settled for the droid and, still not quite satisfied, wait patiently for the dream "iPhone on Verison" to come true. They've been talking about it ever since; maybe this time this talk would actually mean something!
  3. Redneck Perfumisto's Avatar
    Interesting and fun to think about, Jaime! You know, I came very close to this with the iPad, buying it just a few days after launch. I ALMOST pre-ordered.

    I do wonder, in Roman days, whether people ever had their slaves or servants queue up for trendy things. I know that they did have fashions - so perhaps there was something similar.

    You're right that it probably won't happen with fragrance. Most people realize they can live without Acqua di Gio, but not an iPhone. Well, one can live without an iPhone or iPad, but not in a civilized fashion.


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Loving perfume on the Internet since 2000