Sonja Wong with her new iPhone 5 outside the Apple store in New York. (AFP)
London/Tokyo, Sept. 21 (Reuters): Apple fans queued around city blocks worldwide today to get their hands on the new iPhone 5 — but grumbles about inaccurate maps tempered the excitement.
The new phone went on sale across, Europe, Asia and Australia with mobile carriers reporting record demand that looked likely to stretch Apple’s supply capacity.
Apple has booked more than 2 million orders for the device in the first 24 hours, double the first-day sales of the previous iPhone 4S.
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 US economy in the fourth quarter. The amount is almost the same as the economy of Fiji.
Apple’s rival and component supplier, Samsung Electronics Co , moved to spoil the party, saying it planned to add the new device to existing patent lawsuits against the US company.
The new phone has a larger, 4-inch screen and is slimmer and far lighter than the previous model. The iPhone 5 supports faster 4G mobile networks and also comes with a number of software updates, including Apple’s new in-house maps feature.
But not everyone was impressed with the standard of the new technology. Some users criticised the maps feature for a number of geographical errors, missing information and a lack of features.
Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller has said the company launched the new service knowing it was a major initiative. “We are continuously improving it, and as Maps is a cloud-based solution, the more people use it, the better it will get.” Hundreds of French iPhone fans lining up at Apple’s main store in Paris got an earful from disgruntled employees and former retailers protesting against the group’s policies.
Some 20 former staffers of independent Apple distributors which closed after struggling to compete with Apple’s own stores marched in front of the Paris store.
Joining them were three store employees striking to protest against Apple’s refusal to offer perks such as meal vouchers and a yearly bonus of an extra one month’s salary that are standard for many French workers.
In London’s Regent Street about 1,300 people lined up to buy the phone, nearly double for the launch of the previous phone. “iPhone 5 is both the fastest and biggest selling iPhone to date on our network. Pre-order sales are up more than 50 per cent compared to the iPhone 4S,” said a spokesman for Vodafone UK.