Pocket-lint has just wandered past the Regent Street Apple Store, the site of all the hullabaloo and hubbub surrounding the launch of the new iPad this morning, and the queue has vanished. We also talked to a blue-shirted employee who told us that there's still plenty of stock to be snapped up, with only the 16GB Wi-Fi 4G model sold out.
We also visited the same site on iPad 2 launch day last year and that was still going strong at 7pm, with the queue stretching around the block. So, what's gone wrong this time? What's changed?
An exit poll taken by Dynamo PR reveals some interesting facts. For starters, only 13 per cent of the first 100 people in the Regent Street queue believed, wrongly, that the Apple Store was the only venue selling the new device. The rest were fully aware that it was available for pre-order online and in stores such as Currys and PC World from day one (in fact, in the latter retailers' case, it was available from 12.01am today - 16 March). A majority of them were only queuing for "the atmosphere" and "to be there".
In addition, only 45 per cent of them had never owned a tablet before, the rest were upgrading.
So, what can we take from this? And what other factors could be involved?
It's actually quite obvious that the much more widespread availability will have been a factor for many. Why camp or queue outside a shop on a London street when you can either order a new iPad from the comfort of your own home (with John Lewis also offering it online) or buy one in many other stores. Indeed, Apple is quoting record pre-order figures for its latest tablet device, which is a good indication of the former.
Then, of course, there's the fact that we found out that many of the first in line weren't actually there solely to buy an iPad, but for publicity or other reasons. Maybe even the Apple fanboys are tiring of the pomp around such an event.
We certainly doubt the latest iteration of the new iPad (formerly known as the iPad 3) will be less popular than any other. But are we seeing the decline of the insane queuing shenanigans Apple has been renowned for in recent years? Is this the end of the most bizarre of tech traditions?
After all, Stephen Fry didn't even show up this time around.
What do you think? Are people getting tired of Apple queues? Let us know in the comments below...
Pic by Stuart Miles