Undeterred by the lack of official news, or the British weather, Apple fanatic Robert Shoesmith has caught the world's attention, planning to camp outside the Covent Garden Apple store to ensure he's the first Brit to get his hands on the company's fabled iPhone 5 smartphone.
Earlier this week the IBTimes caught up with Shoesmith to find out how and more importantly why, the Marketing and PR guru plans to achieve the feat in an exclusive interview.
First off, could you tell us what you're planning to do and how you're going to do it?
The plan is to camp outside the Apple Store in Covent Garden London for the release of the iPhone in an experiment.
There is one rule -- I can't spend any money whilst I'm down there in line and I have to rely 100 per cent on donations of supplies from companies and individuals who would like to get involved and help.
I could be camping up to a month. I aim to start camping out as soon as the iPhone release date is announced for the UK.
Could you tell us a little about yourself and what led you to begin the iPhone 5 experiment?
I studied internet marketing at the University of Derby in the United Kingdom, but due to a lack of maturity and funds on my part, I had to leave my course early. I needed to find a job as a stop gap to get my financial affairs in order. I began employment as a trash collector for my local government.
It's funny how life pans out and five years later I was still emptying garbage bins. I became very disillusioned and needed a career change and knew I had so much more to offer. I was interested in getting involved with tech marketing and PR, but knew if I sent my resume to some agencies the fact that I worked as a trash collector with no marketing experience would have severely hindered my chances of employment in this field.
I searched long and hard for a break. One evening after work I was browsing the app store and came across MEDL Mobile who had just released an iPhone app called the App Incubator that allows normal everyday people without coding and programming knowledge the opportunity to pitch them ideas for iPhone apps. If MEDL Mobile like the idea they will pay the full cost of developing the app and give the person who submitted the idea a percentage of the profits.
This was just the opportunity I was looking for to get my foot in the door. Over a period of around two weeks I brainstormed and sent across a number of app ideas. To my delight I received an email back from Dave Swartz, one of MEDL Mobile's co-founders, informing me that they were interested in one of my ideas, Problem Halved.
Problem Halved is an agony aunt style application that allows users to post a problem to the community that they are facing and lets fellow users of the app help solve it. I knew the media would love the human interest angle of the story -- there aren't too many trash collectors involved with app marketing and development. I generated international press attention for Problem Halved and MEDL Mobile were really impressed with my ability to generate press coverage and subsequently offered me part time employment.
Over a period of around 12 months I started to really get a feel for the marketing and PR industry and around two months ago I was offered a full time Marketing and PR [role] with MEDL Mobile, which I was over the moon about and gladly accepted.
What is the end goal of the iPhone 5 experiment, is it simply to get free stuff?
To be the first person in the UK to get my hands on the new iPhone. I love Apple product launches and it will be some experience!
[Past this] by conducting my experiment I will meet a lot of new people in the industry which will open up opportunities for me and MEDL Mobile in the future.
The majority of app developers would agree that it can be extremely tough to get editorial exposure for their apps and companies. The Appstore is a very crowed place with thousands of developers all vying for the same pot of gold. A mixture of a great app and quality editorial coverage are key ingredients in getting the app download needle to move.
With Apple having so much marketing and media influence I thought to myself "would it be possible to live indirectly off their influence through donations for up to a month outside the Apple Store without spending a single penny in [the] process?"
I have spoken to over 200 companies who have donated products to my experiment and it's been fantastic connecting with people from all different types of industry. Maybe some of these people will want applications being built in the future.
The sheer thought of camping outside an Apple Store for a month for the new iPhone 5 would put many off but not me. It will be extremely tough and stressful, but MEDL Mobile gave me such a big opportunity to change my career and life path for the better, it's a sacrifice I'm looking to make to thank them for believing in me and make a mark in the industry.
Don't get me wrong the products that have been donated have been cool but I get more of a buzz from the challenge of getting them for free and making new contacts.
I want to provide fans of Apple quality entertainment in the form of my blogs. The experiment will be pretty wild but a whole lot of fun at the same time and there will no doubt be some pretty fun blogs posted.
It's been amazing how quickly the story has spread across the globe. I've had press interest from as far away as Russia and China. I would have never connected with these types of media if I hadn't come up with the idea of the experiment.
4. How have you gone about marketing the experiment, is there an overall game-plan or have you relied more on word-of-mouth?
Yes there is a game plan. Organising such a crazy experiment has been very time consuming. I must have connected with easily over 500 people and this has taken a lot of effort.
Initially I emailed a few smaller companies to gauge interest in the experiment and was pleasantly surprised to see the level of interest from companies spread very fast. Once the bigger brands became involved this added a lot [of] credibility to the experiment and it kind of snowballed from there.
I work in tech marketing and PR and have put together in-depth media lists to send the press once I've set up camp and will use all my connections to promote what I'm doing.
A major tech blogger saw a picture of me in my tent and put two-and-two together and got five and assumed I was already camped out. This is NOT the case currently. The intention all along was to wait for an official announcement from Apple on the release date of the iPhone 5 before deciding on when to set up camp.
What items have been donated thus far?
I lost count at the amount of items that have been donated so far - my spare room looks like a warehouse with all the parcels that have arrived. Highlights include:
£1000s worth of outdoor clothing supplied to me by Helly Hansen.
A belly dancer flying down from Scotland to entertain me with a performance.
A mobile laundry service to come and pick up my dirty washing and launder and return it to my tent.
Camping Equipment including a tent.
Lots of London restaurants who will be delivering meals to my tent.
A personal PA service to run errands for me whilst in line.
A mobile hairdresser to come and cut my hair ready for press pictures.
A freestyle soccer player to come and entertain me with some tricks.
A magician to come and do some tricks.
A tattoo company to give me a tattoo.
A personal trainer to keep me active
Loads of gadgets
iPhone cake being baked that will feed over 100 people.
Live bands who will come down and do some acoustic numbers!
Why the iPhone 5?
I love Apple and in my opinion the iPhone is by far the best smartphone on the market! I work for MEDL Mobile [as] an app developer that designs iPhone apps, so its important to have the latest phone and OS to test new apps on. Apple events are a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to connecting with a lot of like minded people in the industry and make some new buddies.
I would like to let your readers know that I will be posting a blog at www.iphone5experiment.com and will be tweeting from @shoesmith81 and @medlmobile to let everyone know once my camp has been set up. I'm still looking for donations and people can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if they would like to help.