Eager buyers formed long lines Friday at Apple Inc. 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 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.”
Apple’s stock closed up $1.39, or 0.2 percent, at $700.09. The stock surpassed the $700 level for the first time earlier this week, as excitement for the launch mounted.
For Apple, the iPhone introduction is the biggest revenue driver of the year. Analysts expect the company to sell millions of phones in the first few days. This spring, iPhone sales slowed down from their historical growth rates, apparently because potential buyers were holding off for the arrival of the “5.”
Apple now needs to sell tens of millions of phones before the end of the year to justify its position as the world’s most valuable public company. Although Samsung Electronics Inc. of Korea sells more smartphones, Apple’s iPhone profits are far greater.
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 went on sale in the U.S. and Canada hours after its launch in Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Britain, France and Germany. It will launch in 22 more countries next week. The iPhone 5 is thinner, lighter, has a taller screen, faster processor, updated software and can work on faster “fourth generation” mobile networks.