Support Marketplace

Don't want to wait in line for the new iPhone? There's an app for that.

Customers queue to buy Apple's new iPhone 5c and 5s smartphones outside the Apple Store in Tokyo on September 20, 2013. 

Apple starts selling its latest iPhone models Friday. In the past, devotees have lined up outside Apple stores to be among the first to buy the devices. But if you don’t want to wait in line, well, it turns out there’s an app for that.

A company called WunWun (short for What You Need, When You Need) will spare New Yorkers the agony of crowds trying to buy anything from food, to hot new video games, to the iPhone.

“WunWun is your on-demand helper to get whatever you want delivered,” says co-founder Lee Hnetinka.

For the new iPhone, WunWun is charging $24 an hour for one of its couriers to wait in line.

“A lot of our helpers are actually NYU students. So we’ve figured out a way to fill downtime for them,” he says.

The company received more than 100 iPhone requests by midday Thursday, Hnetinka says, and that afternoon, an NYU student working for WunWun snagged the first spot in line outside an Apple store in New York.

Waiting in line can be big business.

In May, Dominique Ansel’s bakery in New York’s SoHo neighborhood rolled out a “cronut,” a pastry that’s sort of a cross between a croissant and a donut. Hnetinka says while the cronuts cost just $5, people have paid upwards of $150 for them because, just like the iPhone, WunWun's couriers waited in line for hours.

Hnetinka has national ambitions, but for now WunWun operates only in New York.

A similar service, TaskRabbit, serves 15 cities and by Thursday had received 250 requests to line up for the new iPhone.

“To put that in perspective, when the iPhone 5 came out (last year), we saw 350 tasks posted just in New York City and San Francisco alone,” says Johnny Brackett, senior manager for marketing at TaskRabbit.

He recalls that one person even paid TaskRabbit $1,500 to wait in line at an Apple store to secure the first iPhone sold in San Francisco.

But Brackett cautions that lower demand for TaskRabbit this time isn’t necessarily an indicator of how well Apple’s latest iPhone will sell.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...