Post-Jobs, Apple to unleash new iPhone
SYDNEY—Apple fans in Sydney and Tokyo will on Friday aim to beat the rest of the world to the latest iPhone, as the US technology giant unleashes its first device since the death of co-founder Steve Jobs.
The iPhone 4S is already a record-breaker for an Apple product, with more than one million sales in the first 24 hours of pre-orders last week.
Bidding to build on the proven track record of the best-selling smartphone, Apple says the latest iteration boasts faster speeds, a voice-controlled assistant called Siri and an improved camera.
For some it looks too similar to its predecessor and they were underwhelmed when it was unveiled on October 4. But sales are expected to benefit from an outpouring of sympathy for Jobs, who died last week from cancer aged 56.
Queues have built outside Apple’s flagship Sydney store and its counterpart in Tokyo’s upscale Ginza district as fans commit once again to the tradition of sleeping on city streets in a bid to be the first to a new Apple product.
On Thursday evening nearly 100 people, all armed with Apple products, had set up camp in front of the Ginza store.
Ryosuke Ishinabe, 24, was first in the queue. “I have never queued up in my life to buy something. But I felt like doing so this time because Steve Jobs passed away and this phone will be his posthumous work.”
Ishinabe said he arrived on Tuesday morning.
The launch of the iPhone 4S comes at a testing time for smartphone rival Research in Motion, whose BlackBerry system has this week been impaired by glitches across the world, to the chagrin of its frustrated subscribers.
RIM has struggled this year with weaker sales of the BlackBerry against rivals such as the iPhone, various models from Taiwan’s HTC, and other handsets running Google’s Android software.
However, huge questions now hang over the future of Apple, with the spotlight on Tim Cook, who was made chief executive of the Cupertino, California-based company in August after Jobs’s resignation.
The performance of the new iPhone will be seen as an early test for Apple’s life after Jobs, the creative visionary whose death was mourned worldwide by government leaders, industry titans and ordinary fans alike.
On Friday the iPhone 4S will launch in Australia, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, the United States and Canada, before rolling out in 22 more countries by the end of October.
In the United States the smartphone will sell for between $199 and $399, depending on memory capacity.
Australia’s top telecoms firms say they received unprecedented pre-launch interest in the updated iPhone. In Japan carrier Smartphone will for the first time no longer be the exclusive iPhone carrier as rival KDDI joins the fray.
Both will hold early-morning ceremonies marking the start of store sales.
Early reviews have praised the Siri assistant for its ability to handle a wide array of tasks. But in Japan the name has provoked sniggers given the closeness of its name to the Japanese word shiri — a slang term for buttocks.
The feature will not support the Japanese language at launch time.
With the launch of iPhone 4S also comes the launch of iO5, Apple’s latest mobile operating system boasting 200 new features and iCloud, a service that automatically and wirelessly stores content and pushes it to Apple devices.
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