Video: Queues as Apple’s new iPhone goes on sale
Debut for iPhone 5C, 5S in Australia, China, Japan, Singapore, Germany, France, UK and US
Apple attracted long lines of shoppers at its retail stores today for the global debut of its latest iPhones, in the company’s biggest move this year to stoke new growth.
In Tokyo’s Ginza area, about 800 people waited, including some dressed as Batman and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in a face mask, jeans and black turtleneck. More than 400 lined up in Sydney’s central business district hours ahead of the 8am opening, while a Beijing store attracted a crowd of only about 50 because buyers had to register online for an appointment to collect their devices. The iPhone 5s and 5c handsets also go on sale today in Hong Kong, Singapore, Germany, France, UK and the US.
A date for an Irish launch has not been confirmed.
It’s the first time Apple is rolling out its flagship product for sale in China on the same day as elsewhere, rescinding the usual three-month delay, as the company seeks to lure new customers in the world’s largest mobile-phone market.
“Last year, if you wanted an iPhone 5 right after the launch, it was very expensive because you had to buy one that had been brought in from Hong Kong or the US,” said Max Zhang, a 20-year-old student waiting at the Wangfujing store in Beijing for an iPhone 5s. “Now that I can buy it directly in the Apple Store, it’s cheaper.”
Opening-weekend sales are crucial to boosting Apple after nearly a year without releasing a new device and ceding market share to rivals including Samsung Electronics in the $280 billion smartphone market. Whether the California- based company can surpass the record 5 million smartphones sold during last year’s iPhone debut depends largely on whether there is enough supply of the feature-rich iPhone 5s.
“It really depends entirely on how good or bad the yields on the 5s are,” said Carl Howe, an analyst at Yankee Group, who correctly predicted opening weekend sales last year. Apple could top 7 million in sales if it has enough handsets, though “Apple may not even hit the 5 million I predicted last year if the 5s is in really short supply”, he said.
Apple will sell as many as six million units even though it won’t have enough iPhone 5s handsets available, according to Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray Cos. New fingerprint- reading technology makes the gadget harder to manufacture, he said.
Brian Marshall, an analyst with ISI Group, also predicts six million iPhones will be sold.
In some places, people started camping out in front of Apple stores days ago to get the new iPhones, evoking scenes from earlier product introductions - even though the gadget is now six years old. Dozens of people gathered near the Paris Opera by 7.30pm yesterday, prepared to stay overnight with a weather forecast for rain. Some had blankets and campers’ chairs.
“I started lining up five days ago,” said Sachihisa Saishiki, a 45-year-old who runs his own business and has camped outside the Tokyo Ginza store at least six times previously. “I was with a group of 10, and we took turns going out for food, going back home to take showers. I spent time sleeping out here, too, lying down on a cardboard box,” he said after buying a gold iPhone 5s.