A couple of months ago we reported on Rob Shoesmith’s iPhone 5 experiment, where he was planning to camp out outside in Central London awaiting the launch of the iPhone 5, surviving by using products that companies have donated. His self-imposed rules meant that he could not spend a single penny and had to get by on these generous donations from supportive companies.
As iPhone fanatics ourselves, we were huge fans of Rob’s dedication and passion so we thought we’d catch up with him and ask him how it went; here’s the story behind the now infamous iPhone 5 experiment.
iPhoneAppCafe: Hi Rob, thanks for meeting us; we are big fans of your work and its incredible to meet someone who is possibly even more passionate about iPhones than we are! So, starting with a fun point, what was the craziest thing that happened to you during your stay?
Rob: There were lots! One of them was waking to find the Apple Store being raided. I’d just managed to get to sleep and I thought I was dreaming and head lots of motorbikes zooming into the square and heard the sound of breaking glass. By the time I’d opened my eyes it was over. Of course, as a marketer I took some snaps on my iPhone and posted a blog that was then picked up by the national press.
iPhoneAppCafe: Nice work! Ever the entrepreneur…
Rob: Yeah, I know! I did however get a couple of pictures of the aftermath and blog about it. Also one night a very drunk South African lady approached me doing a dance like the old silhouette Apple adverts and proceeded to give me around 15 South African rand, thinking I as homeless; I tried to explain that I wasn’t homeless but she wasn’t having any of it. A lot of people asked me the same question but were perplexed as they saw all of this brand new equipment.
Rob: I also met a homeless guy called Terry Partington who was about my age and had been on the streets a few months. I was really surprised when I saw him pull out a Macbook from a Tesco’s carrier bag and connect to the Apple Store’s Wi-Fi. You just don’t expect to see a homeless person with expensive gadgets like this. The Mac meant everything to Terry, as it was the only way for him to stay in touch with the world that he dearly missed. You can find him on twitter @TerryPartington. He was a massive help in me adjusting to life on the streets and in return I let him help me shoot a couple of YouTube videos and gave him some useful items that were donated to me by sponsors.
I became involved in app development via Problem Halved an agony aunt style app back in 2009 and I found it had come full circle. I like helping people and noticed that Terry had no case for his Mac and as a sponsor had given me a Trabasack laptop bag, I gave it to Terry. I would have felt awful if the rain and dampness got into his Mac and broke it.
iPhoneAppCafe: Great stuff Rob, you’re a real star! So, what was the strangest donation that you received?
Rob: A company called Menhanser donated some herbal Viagra tablets; I mean, seriously, why would anyone want to take a sex pill outside an Apple Store?! I was excited enough for the new iPhone! I also received a thong a bit like the one you would get from the film Borat.
iPhoneAppCafe: Each to their own, I guess…what was the most important donation that you received?
Rob: I would say the Musuc Bag. It’s a wearable sleeping bag and without this I would have froze!
iPhoneAppCafe: How did you wash and keep clean?!
Rob: I received a lot beauty items including aftershaves, deodorants and things like cleaning wipes. The problem was that it was so hard to stay clean. I used the toilets in Covent Garden every morning and got someone to look after my stuff. A few days into my experiment Jubilee Hall gym near Covent Garden came down and allowed me to use their showers. It felt like heaven when I first jumped into that shower…
iPhoneAppCafe: Did you get many fans or passersby?
Rob: Yeah, hundreds of people! Everyone was really supportive. I had people dropping of things like water, sandwiches and chocolates to keep me going! I had a big banner that grabbed the attention of a lot of people.
iPhoneAppCafe: What did you hope to achieve with this experiment? And did you achieve it?
Rob: The experiment was a massive success. As I work for MEDL Mobile as an app developer in marketing and PR, I’m always looking to make new media connections to try and generate our apps press attention. The coverage was incredible and I even did live Skpe interviews outside the Apple Store to news channels in Israel and China! I wanted to connect with a lot of companies with the view of building some apps for them in the future and showing them how much press attention I can generate will certainly help in any negotiations. I also ran a contest for one of our apps Boxhead: The Zombie Wars and used some of the other donations by companies as prizes. We noticed a massive increase in downloads as a result.
iPhoneAppCafe: Were you disappointed that they only brought out the iPhone 4S?
Rob: Not really. It’s still a great phone! I love the speed of the new phone and am really impressed with the new camera.
iPhoneAppCafe: Was it worth the wait?
Rob: Absolutely! It was an amazing experience that I will never forget; it has opened up a lot of new opportunities and got my creative brain going into coming up with some new experiment ideas.
iPhoneAppCafe: Will you be camping out for the iPhone 5 launch?
Rob: I might do for a couple of days but it is unlikely that I would ever camp out for so long again! I would like to try and come up with something different.
iPhoneAppCafe: Do you have anything similar in the pipeline?
Rob: Maybe! I have around 5 or 6 other experiment ideas floating around in my head but I want to have time to reflect before setting anything new up.
Well Rob, no matter what crazy ideas you do come up with, you’ll always have our support!
Visit Rob’s iPhone 5 Experiment blog and read all about his wild adventures, keeping up to date with all of his latest ventures.