iPhone 5 launch draws Apple fans globally

2012-09-21 20:03

New York - In a now familiar global ritual, Apple fans jammed shops across the globe to pick up the tech juggernaut's latest iPhone.

Eager buyers formed long lines on Friday at Apple stores in Asia, Europe and North America to be the first to get their hands on the latest version of the smartphone.

In New York, several hundred people lined up outside Apple's 5th Avenue store. Jimmy Peralta, a 30-year-old business management student, waited three hours before getting the chance to buy his new gadget. Was it worth the wait?

"Definitely," he said, noting that the new phone's larger screen and lighter weight compelled him to upgrade from the iPhone 4.

"A little treat for me on a Friday morning, why not. Why not be a part of something fantastic? It's just such a smart phone it does all the thinking for you, you can't get any easier than that."

Catheryne Caveed, 23, was in line at a Verizon store in the Queens borough of New York. An iPhone 4 user, she had no regrets about skipping last year's model, the iPhone 4S. The only real upgrade in the 4S, she said, was Siri, the voice-controlled "personal assistant".

"The 4S looked the same as the 4," Caveed said. With the 5, "everything is different - even the headphones."

Other countries, theft

In London, some shoppers had camped out for a week in a queue that snaked around the block. In Hong Kong, the first customers were greeted by staff cheering, clapping, chanting "iPhone 5! iPhone 5!" and high-fiving them as they were escorted one-by-one through the front door.

The smartphone will be on sale in the US and Canada hours after its launch in Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Britain, France and Germany. It will launch in 22 more countries a week later. The iPhone 5 is thinner, lighter, has a taller screen, faster processor, updated software and can work on faster "fourth generation" mobile networks.

The handset has become a hot seller despite a new map app that early users have deemed inferior to Google Maps, the software it replaces. Apple received 2 million orders in the first 24 hours of announcing its release date, more than twice the number for the iPhone 4S in the same period when that phone launched a year ago.

In a sign of the intense demand, police in Osaka, Japan, were investigating the theft of nearly 200 iPhones 5s, including 116 from one shop alone, Kyodo News reported. In London, police sought help finding a man wanted in connection with the theft of 252 iPhone 5s from a shop in Wimbledon early on Friday morning.


Analysts have estimated Apple will ship as many as 10 million of the new iPhones by the end of September.

Some fans went to extremes to be among the first buyers by arriving at Apple's flagship stores day ahead of the release.

In downtown Sydney, Todd Foot, 24, showed up three days early to nab the coveted first spot. He spent about 18 hours a day in a folding chair, catching a few hours' sleep each night in a tent on the sidewalk.

Foot's dedication was largely a marketing stunt, however. He writes product reviews for a technology website that will give away the phone after Foot reviews it.

"I just want to get the phone so I can feel it, compare it and put it on our website," he said while slumped in his chair.

Apple protest

In Paris, the phone launch was accompanied by a workers' protest - a couple dozen former and current Apple employees demonstrated peacefully to demand better work benefits. Some decried what they called Apple's transformation from an offbeat company into a multinational powerhouse.

But the protesters - urged by a small labour union to demonstrate at Apple stores around France - were far outnumbered by lines of would-be buyers on the sidewalk outside the store near the city's gilded opera house.

Not everyone lining up at the various Apple stores was an enthusiast, though. In Hong Kong, university student Kevin Wong, waiting to buy a black 16 gigabyte model for 5 588 Hong Kong dollars ($720), said he was getting one "for the cash".

He planned to immediately resell it to one of the numerous grey market retailers catering to mainland Chinese buyers. China is one of Apple's fastest growing markets but a release date for the iPhone 5 there has not yet been set.

Wong was required to give his local identity card number when he signed up for his iPhone on Apple's website. The requirement prevents purchases by tourists including mainland Chinese, who have a reputation for scooping up high-end goods on trips to Hong Kong because there's no sales tax and because of the strength of China's currency. Even so, the mainlanders will probably buy it from the resellers "at a higher price - a way higher price", said Wong, who hoped to make a profit of HK$1 000 ($129).


A similar money-making strategy was being pursued in London, where many in the crowds - largely from the city's extensive Asian community - planned to either send the phones to family and friends back home as gifts or sell them in countries where they are much more expensive.

"It makes a really nice gift to family back home," said Muhammad Alum, 30, a minicab driver from Bangladesh. "It will be two or three weeks before there is a SIM card there that can work it, but it's coming soon."

Others who had waited overnight said the iPhones cost roughly twice as much in India as in Britain, making them very welcome as gifts.

Tokyo's glitzy downtown Ginza district not only had a long line in front of the Apple store, but another across the main intersection at Softbank, the first carrier in Japan to offer iPhones.

Hidetoshi Nakamura, a 25-year-old auto engineer, said he's an Apple fan because it's an innovator.

"I love Apple," he said, standing near the end of a two-block-long line, reading a book and listening to music on his iPod.
"It's only the iPhone for me."

  • kosta.kalarytis - 2012-09-21 20:50

    And if Aliens vaporized our planet tomorrow you'd be sad why?

  • Dalen24 - 2012-09-21 21:03

    Wish I thought of the Me Phone :P

  • tiaan.truter - 2012-09-21 21:17

    I am speechless,really...This phone is exactly the SAME as the previous iPhone's,yet idiot fan boys pay R8500 - R10 000 (If you go and buy the phone in South Africa for example).Why not just keep the iPhone 4 and update the software.Plus If I'm not mistaken the S3 and the HTC One X have a quad-core CPU and the iPhone a dual-core.I'm sorry,but the only reason why this phone is selling is because of the name Apple and the previous success of Steve Jobs.Last thing,this is a disgrace to Steve? Jobs.

  • brian.bice.92 - 2012-09-21 21:55

    Latest news about iPhone 5 (Updating Live) from Gizmodo - now working link

  • Cherholdt - 2012-09-21 22:11

    Sorry guys but you can say all you want but if you havent owned it , you wont know what these people are talking about. Apple does'nt need to reinvent the wheel. They listned to their customers and gave them what they wanted. It is still the only phone that has software and hardware that compliment each other. My father bought a Samsung S3 and we needed to donwload software just so that he could sync his outlook and still not working properly. The iphone jsut works so easily. And the apps are of a much better quality than androids. Bravo Apple !!!!

      rlong1952 - 2012-09-21 22:43

      Yes, as I said before, it is only those who don't have an iPhone that hate it. Jealousy makes you nasty. All the people that are criticising it because it has a smaller screen than its competition, if you want to carry around a huge phone get an iPad or Tab, the iPhone works for my big hands no problem and the screen is a delight.

      brandon.faber.908 - 2012-09-22 06:36

      And how does any of this matter really? Tech toys are fun but it's just that mate... Toys.

      irene.buthelezi.1 - 2012-09-22 12:14

      Cherholdt and Saffa ~ Your comments are absolutely spot on. Let the haters hate because they're the losers and wouldn't know what quality was if it bit them in the ass. Viva Apple Viva!!

  • jamiepamuk.brown - 2012-09-22 00:41

    I directly converted from CAD $.And R4500.00 excluding shipping.The Android is a better deal.

      ndlovu.bhekinkosi - 2012-09-22 02:57

      i dont like android just becoz of the battery consumption

  • Tshepo Gwamanda - 2012-09-22 06:21

    samsung galaxy s3 a much better smartphone!!! anytime!!! Not this fruit phone people going crazy about!! The only difference from the previous one is bigger screen! wow!! actually LOL!!!!

  • brandon.faber.908 - 2012-09-22 06:30


  • henk.duplessis.5 - 2012-09-22 07:54

    Blah Blah Blah Blah... keep on trying to convince everyone why the knock-off Apple is better than the real thing... nobody listens everybody out there knows... who is the real sheep? People love an original... that is why Levi is selling well and knock-off products are run of the mill... Must be knock-off syndrome trying to tell everybody why your knock-off is so much better than the real thing!

  • leenesh.singh - 2012-09-22 08:51

    Hey looks like all my cuzzins in the pic....and if Samsung launches a S4 and makes a queue like that, they will be sued.

      Mavhungu J Mukwevho - 2012-09-23 02:02

      apple will patent the long queues. .lol

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