iPhone 4S launch is shaping up as the mother of all launches. Apple Stores worldwide have come alive in a celebratory mood, shaking off the gloom that Steve Jobs' death created, gingerly welcoming the last iPhone that had the dead icon's signature on.
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak took the first place in a line at the Apple Store at Los Gatos, California. He did not get an iPhone 4S direct from Apple because he did not want to use his position of privilege. He is happier sitting among ordinary people and signing autographs on the iPhones and iPads of Apple fans.
I want to get mine along with the millions of other fans... I just want to be able to talk to my phone, Wozniak said, according to CNN.
Among a horde of new features added to the iPhone, the talking personal assistant Siri has caught the imagination of millions of iPhone users. Wozniak, who designed the first Apple computers along with Steve Jobs, is mighty impressed with the latest gadgets coming out of Cupertino, and is awestruck by Siri as well.
If anyone is skeptical if Wozniak hasn't really had a chance to play around iPhone 4S, despite still being the employee No. 1 at Apple, he says that's the truth. He told CNN he didn't like to ask colleagues about products in development and that he would rather reserve the surprise for later.
Along with Wozniak, several hundred thousands of people already taken a place in serpentine queues in front of Apple Stores, most looking at the prospect of staying there for as long as 18 hours. Apple Inc.'s iPhone 4S will hit shelves at 8 a.m. local time on Friday in Apple Stores in the U.S. and many other countries. iPhone 4S will be available in 245 stores across the U.S. on Friday.
In Japan, where iPhone 4S was available in the morning, the registration servers at a mobile operator crashed temporarily. People started occupying a place in the line from Thursday evening.
IDG News reported that Softbank, Japan's third-largest carrier, was temporarily overwhelmed by the demand. In some locations across the country, it was unable to process new contracts or phone upgrades until late into the morning.
Strange and funny scenes are also reported from some Apple Stores. Cultofmac has reported that at the flagship NYC store, an app developer has appeared with some farm animals to stand in the line. Dillon Horowitz, an app developer, brought a cow, a calf and a goat to the store, and it took him a year to get the permits, the report said.
Analysts have predicted that Apple will sell close to 4 million iPhone 4S units this weekend, but tech observes are skeptical about the depth of inventory. Many warn that outlets can run out of stocks soon; this applies especially to third party outlets.
The sales fever never subsided ever since Apple started pre-orders for iPhone 4S. In the first weekend, Apple reportedly sold a million units of the new phone. That was a remarkable jump from the 600,000 iPhone 4S the company sold in the first week after its pore-order launch last year. According to analyst estimates, iPhone 4S sold three million units in the first weekend.
Now, pre-orders have all been sold out, and the people have to brave weather and take off from work to lay their hands on iPhone 4S. Carriers Verizon, AT&T and Sprint have said pre-orders have already been sold out.