BUENOS AIRES – Hundreds of people were lined up in Buenos Aires this Friday, including many who had been there since two days before, to obtain one of the 300 smartphones being sold for 1 peso (6 cents) each that the Chinese firm Huawei was offering in order to promote its brand and conquer second place in the local market.
Under the slogan “Huawei one peso day,” the company offered the first 300 customers to arrive at its office in downtown Buenos Aires the chance to own a model Y6 cell phone, in the medium to high range and valued at 3,400 pesos (some $220) each, for little more than a hundredth of its regular price.
“It was tough being here for three nights, sleeping on the street, on the ground, with no more than a thin blanket in this infernally cold weather,” said Nicolas, the young man standing first in line and who was happy in spite of all his trials.
Next to him was Franco, second in line, who was also smiling. They never knew each other before but now the first seven youths are buddies, thanks to their hours of gabbing, playing card games and gazing at the sky to see if it was going to rain and waste the days they had spent waiting.
“All the people who walked by looked at us oddly, they took our photos...then they found out why we were there,” Franco told EFE.
Those interested had to previously sign up on the Internet, and the speed with which the quota of inscriptions ran out was comparable to ticket sales for a rock-star concert. At first there were 35,000 people in the virtual line fighting for one of the 600 available places in the physical line, which were gone in four minutes.
At break of day, only the first half of those waiting in line would get a smartphone.
The line on Friday wound down the emblematic Lavalle del Microcentro street, and the last to get lucky had waited at least since before 7:00 a.m. (1000 GMT).
Music, video games, card games and even a master of ceremonies served to enliven the long wait, which went by in an air of friendliness, Rodrigo Ubeda, marketing director for Huawei Argentina, told EFE.
“Huawei is the world’s third-largest smartphone producer, with record growth over the past three years. We firmly believe that in the short term we’re going to be the second-largest,” Ubeda said.
In the Argentine market, where the brand has been present for 15 years but only in the past year has it been sold on a massive scale, Huawei occupies a similar position and hopes to climb another step up the ladder by the end of this year.
With that goal and to establish “closer ties” with consumers, the brand launched this promotion – the first of its kind anywhere in the world for the Chinese product – which, according to Ubeda, has “surpassed all expectations.”