WASHINGTON (AP) — Apple Inc.’s newest iPhone was selling briskly today as thousands lined up outside stores around the world to become among the first to own the device amid concerns of supply shortages.
The iPhone 4’s launch began in Japan and sold out by early afternoon at the flagship store of Softbank, Apple’s exclusive wireless carrier there. The launch moved across France, Germany and the U.K. before going on sale at 7 a.m. in each time zone in the U.S. Some stores abroad had midnight openings.
More than with past launches, there were worries about limited supplies after more than 600,000 people rushed to pre-order iPhones on the first day they were available, prompting Apple and its exclusive wireless partner in the U.S., AT&T Inc., to stop taking orders for shipment by Thursday’s launch. On Apple’s website, new orders weren’t promised for delivery until July 14.
Sean Hill, 39, a Washington police officer who had pre-ordered his phone, smiled and proudly held the phone up for the crowd to see as he walked out of the newly opened Apple store in the Georgetown neighborhood.
“I’m like a kid in a candy store,” Hill said. “I’m probably going to spend all morning playing with it.”
Those who didn’t place an iPhone 4 order had to line up outside Apple stores Thursday in the hopes of snagging one on a first-come, first-served basis. Apple wouldn’t say whether it believes it has enough iPhones on hand.
“I am going to be very disappointed and upset if they run out before I get one,” said Jasmine Cordova, 25, an administrative assistant in Brooklyn. “They have been advertising and hyping for months. They should make sure to stock enough.”
The new iPhone model, the fourth model since the original came out in 2007, is thinner with a better-resolution screen and longer battery life.
“I like the design. It’s sleek — I think it’s cool!” said Yoko Kosugi, 41, a graphic designer in Tokyo, who took her new phone out of her bag to show it off, plastic wrapping still on the screen.
It features a new operating system that can also be installed on some older models, such as the 3GS, along with cameras on both sides to permit face-to-face video calls.
“This is revolutionary in the U.S. for deaf people to have a mobile device they can use to communicate in their native language,” said Beth Henriksen, 30, a sign language interpreter in Washington.
At the Apple store in Tokyo’s swanky Ginza shopping district, staff handed out bottled water and loaned black umbrellas with the company logo. A man dressed as a giant iPhone danced and waived his arms as he made it to the front of the line.
In Washington, Apple employees brought free bagels, cream cheese and bottled water as temperatures climbed to the high 80s by midmorning. Those waiting in Cherry Hill, N.J., got free Starbucks coffee; as each customer entered the store, a cheer went up from the congenial, caffeine-fueled and slaphappy crowd.