Sales of Apple’s latest smartphone began in Japan with a humanoid robot welcoming eager fans to a shop in Tokyo close to ground zero for a Dengue fever outbreak.
SoftBank’s Pepper robot kicked off the festivities early Friday at the carrier’s outlet in Omotesando, where over 200 people lined up to get their hands on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.
As if braving three frigid nights outdoors wasn’t bad enough, the first person in line had to put up with the threat of mosquitos carrying the Dengue virus.
“I’ve been here since Tuesday with my mosquito coil,” a part-time actor who goes by the name Butch said in an interview before sales began. “But I’m really excited now.”
The shop is a stone’s throw from Yoyogi Park, the epicenter of Japan’s first outbreak of Dengue fever in nearly 70 years. Over 100 cases have been reported in recent weeks.
Sporting a finely waxed mohawk, tattoos and white sunglasses, Butch entered the shop amid cheers from customers and SoftBank staff.
A passionate iPhone fan since buying the original version of the phone, it was the first time he had managed to be the first in line. Butch’s mosquito coil was still smoking amid his camping gear—he had slept in a chair on the sidewalk.
“I’d like to thank you all for your patience in waiting for iPhone 6,” SoftBank Mobile Chief Operating Officer Ken Miyauchi said, as Pepper, launched in June as a household communication robot, waved at reporters.
Twenty minutes later, Butch emerged with a shiny, new white iPhone 6.
“I’d like to call my grandma first,” he chuckled. “And ask her if she’s ever heard of iPhone.”
Japan’s other two wireless carriers, NTT DoCoMo and KDDI, also began iPhone 6 sales on Friday.