Apple Inc. (AAPL) is poised for a record iPhone 5 debut and may not be able to keep up with demand as customers lined up in Sydney, Tokyo, Paris and New York to pick up the latest model of its top-selling product (AAPL).
Global sales started at the Apple Store in Sydney’s George Street at 8 a.m., as about 500 people waited to buy the device. Sales also began in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Germany, France and the U.K., and will start in Canada and the U.S. later today. With a new wireless contract, the device (AAPL) costs $199, $299 and $399 in the U.S., depending on the amount of memory.
Okan Yasin, a 19-year-old imitator who has performed in German TV shows, had stood in line for 17 hours outside the Apple store in Frankfurt’s financial district and was among about 1,000 people gathered at the shop for the opening.
“There is nothing cooler than being the first,” Yasin said. “Now I am going to go home and unpack it slowly and with joy — this is going to be better than sex.”
The crowds reinforce estimates from analysts that the iPhone 5 will be the largest consumer-electronics debut in history. Apple may sell as many as 10 million iPhones during the weekend sales rush, according to Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray Cos. (PJC) Because Apple generates about two-thirds of its profit from the iPhone, a successful debut is critical to fuel growth that has led investors to catapult Cupertino, California-based Apple to the world’s most valuable company.
Apple climbed 0.2 percent to the equivalent of $701.54 as of 9:21 a.m. in Frankfurt trading.
“We’ve never seen anything like this before,” said Andrew McAfee, principal research scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Digital Business. “It used to be that with tech products the nerds got them, obsessed about them, and talked about them, and the cool kids wanted no part of that conversation. That’s just not true anymore.”
Apple may have trouble keeping up with initial demand because of supply shortages of components such as in-cell screen displays, according to Barclays Plc. (BARC) Already, the company had to push out some deliveries to October after early online purchases topped 2 million in 24 hours, double the record set last year with the iPhone 4S.
Apple is introducing the iPhone across the world faster than any of the device’s five previous debuts. The iPhone will go on sale in 22 more countries on Sept. 28, Apple said, and it will be in more than 100 countries by the end of the year.