Customers line up for new iPhones

For the first time ever, Apple Inc. released not just one, but two iPhones on Friday, giving fans double the choice and Wall Street double the heartburn.
Sep 20, 2013
(Laurie Everett • Lebanon Democrat) Dani Eadler waits for all her information to download into her new iPhone 5C on Friday when Apple released the new phones to customers.
(Laurie Everett • Lebanon Democrat) A line of people waits outside the Lebanon Verizon store to get their hands on one of two new iPhones released Friday.

 

For the first time ever, Apple Inc. released not just one, but two iPhones on Friday, giving fans double the choice and Wall Street double the heartburn.

Apple's dual phone launch closed out a tumultuous couple of weeks for the tech giant, which took a hit on the stock market after announcing its newest smartphones, rebuffed backlash over the not-so-low-cost of its low-cost iPhone option and discovered a security glitch in its new operating system. The pressure was on for Apple to post big sales of new iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S, and assure consumers and investors that the Cupertino, Calif., company still had something revolutionary up its sleeve.

It was a busy day for workers at the Lebanon Verizon store, who reported better-than-steady traffic throughout Friday.

Lebanon resident Brian Lee stood in line outside the local Verizon store with a number to be waited on by staff. He said he's all about "everything Apple."

He planned to upgrade his iPhone 4S to a 5S.

"I mostly want to do it because I heard about the thumb print security system they've made on it," said Lee. "It's better than a password."

Kellie Roberts, of Lebanon, also stood in line. She said she was going to sign a new contract and upgrade her iPhone to the latest model.

"I haven't gotten a new phone in a long time," she said. "My old phone is about to break down, and I've heard about all the new apps you can get on the 5S"

Dani Eadler, 20, of Lebanon, cradled her brand new baby-blue iPhone 5C Friday afternoon. She waited in line 10 minutes to switch from a Droid.

"I've waited a long time for this," she said. "I can't believe I'm holding it in my hands. I wanted a new phone, and I waited for the fifth-generation iPhone."

She said she liked it because it was plastic and the large variety of colors, such as lime green and pastel yellow. She chose her favorite color, baby blue.

"I'm just glad I finally got it," she said.

Verizon assistant manager Melissa Ramirez said because the new iPhones launched Friday, they were limiting the number of customers in the store at one time who wished to upgrade or buy one of the two new phones.

"We are just trying to keep peace in the store," she said.

She said most of Friday's customers were upgrading to the new phone.

The two phones to choose from are the iPhone 5S, the company's new flagship device loaded with Apple's latest and greatest, and the lower-cost, heavier but colorful iPhone 5C. Along with the U.S., Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore and the U.K. also launched the iPhone 5S and 5C on Friday.

Apple did not say how many units of the iPhone 5S it had in stock, but it was clear that demand would exceed supply. Only a handful of the gold-colored 5S were available, said customers in line in Palo Alto, and an Apple spokesman said supply was getting short.

"Demand for the new iPhones has been incredible, and we are currently sold out or have limited supply of certain iPhone 5S models in some stores," Apple spokesman Bill Evans said Friday.

Some analysts speculated that Apple was trying to foster demand for the cheaper 5C by slowing the supply of the 5S to stores.

Apple sold more than 4 million units of the iPhone 4S during launch weekend in 2011, and sales topped 5 million for the iPhone 5 during its first weekend in stores almost exactly a year ago. But last year Apple stock was trading above $700, a record high; since then, it has slumped by about a third.

The 5S features more processing power, upgraded camera features, and improved graphics quality that some reviews have pegged better than Samsung's Galaxy S 4. And there's a gold color, which may alone be a selling point for some. It starts at $199 with a two-year contact.

The iPhone 5C is a heavier model that comes in a spectrum of candy-coated colors, and boasts some improvements including added camera features. But some critics have said it's little more than last year's model wrapped in cheerful-colored plastic. It's also considered too expensive for the average Chinese consumer, a market where some experts were hoping for big sales.

Both phones will ship with Apple's newest operating system preinstalled. IOS 7 was made available for download Wednesday and has been widely praised for its multitasking interface and software additions such as GarageBand. But Apple is now working to fix a security glitch that was discovered, and some critics say the system shortens the iPhone's already too-short battery life.

– Mt. Juliet News managing editor Laurie Everett and The San Jose Mercury News via MCT contributed to this report

 

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