Army of dancing robots queue politely to get their clamps on the iPhone 7

Want to experience the thrill of standing in a queue for the new iPhone 7, but without the downsides, like standing in a queue? Now a dancing robot can do it for you!

Claire Reilly Former Principal Video Producer
Claire Reilly was a video host, journalist and producer covering all things space, futurism, science and culture. Whether she's covering breaking news, explaining complex science topics or exploring the weirder sides of tech culture, Claire gets to the heart of why technology matters to everyone. She's been a regular commentator on broadcast news, and in her spare time, she's a cabaret enthusiast, Simpsons aficionado and closet country music lover. She originally hails from Sydney but now calls San Francisco home.
Expertise Space | Futurism | Robotics | Tech Culture | Science and Sci-Tech Credentials
  • Webby Award Winner (Best Video Host, 2021), Webby Nominee (Podcasts, 2021), Gold Telly (Documentary Series, 2021), Silver Telly (Video Writing, 2021), W3 Award (Best Host, 2020), Australian IT Journalism Awards (Best Journalist, Best News Journalist 2017)
Claire Reilly
2 min read
Watch this: Apple iPhone 7 Sydney launch

We've taught them to move like humans, play games like humans, and now, robots are experiencing one of the last true joys of being a real person: queuing!

A phalanx of mini robots were among the first in the world to get their metal claws on the brand new iPhone 7 when it launched in New Zealand on Friday. Thanks to the country's proximity to the international dateline, NZ got a few hours' head start on Australia's early launch, and the Kiwis weren't going to pass up that opportunity, using robots to spruik the iPhone launch.

It's not the first time robots have replaced us human meat sacks on iPhone launch day. Last year, one Australian woman used a "telepresence robot" (read: iPad on wheels) to hold her place in the Sydney queue for the iPhone 6S.

This year, New Zealand carrier Spark used 100 Alpha 1 robots, created by Chinese company UBtech, to stand in line on behalf of customers. Each robot was controlled with a phone app and programmed to dance and move, and they were also fitted out to live-stream the queue.

Spark's general manager of customer and marketing, Clive Ormerod, said the robots gave customers the thrill of waiting in line in digital form.

"Queuing is an iconic part of new device fan culture," said Ormerod (in one of the most generous uses of the word iconic we've seen in some time). "We wanted to give our existing customers an experience of the atmosphere and excitement of the queue, without actually having to line up and wait it out until launch day."

It's good to know that when the robot uprising finally comes, they'll know how to queue politely.