An estimated 600 people queued around the block from the Apple store in central Sydney and customers were limited to buying a maximum of two phones. In a rainy Tokyo, the lines stretched back several blocks.
Guerrilla marketers grabbed the first dozen or so spots in the queue in Sydney, with companies paying staff members to line up for several days in the hope of being photographed and interviewed for being among the first in the world to get their hands on the new devices.
At the head of the queue was Todd Foot, who lined up with colleagues – all wearing clothing branded with their price comparison website logo – for three days. Staff from an online buyer and seller of used Apple products roamed the long lines offering free coffees.
But most of those waiting were aficionados already hooked on Apple’s earlier iPhones and best-selling iPad tablet computers.
“I feel like if I leave it at home, I go a bit crazy,” James Vohradsky, a 20-year-old student said of his current iPhone. “I have to drive back and get it. I can’t do my normal day without it,” said Vohradsky, who had queued for 17 hours with his younger sister.
Some analysts expect Apple to sell up to 10 million iPhone 5 models in the remaining days of September and JP Morgan estimates the phone release could provide a $3.2 billion boost to the U.S. economy in the fourth quarter.
In Japan, where the line outside the Tokyo Apple store stretched for several blocks, one of the two carriers selling the iPhone 5 said it was concerned the U.S. company does not have enough production capacity to meet demand.
Softbank president and founder, Masayoshi Son, said demand for the iPhone 5 was greater than the first iPhone. KDDI Corp, the other Japanese carrier offering the iPhone, said that it had already run out of the iPhone 5.