Apple’s iPhone 4S went on sale in stores across the world on Friday, with many fans buying the phone as a tribute to Steve Jobs.
The newly launched iPhone was the last gadget unveiled during Jobs’ lifetime. Hundreds queued around city blocks in Sydney and Tokyo on Friday, ahead of store sales in Germany, France, Britain and North America.
"I am a fan, a big fan. I want something to remember Steve Jobs by," said Haruko Shiraishi, waiting patiently with her Yorkshire terrier Miu Miu at the end of an eight block queue in Tokyo's smart Ginza shopping district.
The iPhone 4S looks similar to the previous iPhone 4 but has an upgraded camera, faster processor and voice-activated software, which allows users to ask questions.
Australian Tom Mosca, the first to buy the phone in Sydney, said he would ask his new white iPhone: "Where's Steve?" Many Apple fans believe the phone was called iPhone 4S to mean "for Steve".
The iPhone 4S - introduced just a day before Jobs died - was dubbed a disappointment because it fell short of being a revolution in design, but glowing reviews centred around its "Siri" voice-activated software have helped it set a record pace in initial, online sales orders.
In Tokyo, 24-year-old Ryosuke Ishinabe said: "I just wanted the newest iPhone. I want to try out iCloud."
Despite the enthusiasm at Apple stores, the launch was marred somewhat by widespread complaints this week on the internet about problems downloading iOS 5 - the latest version of Apple’s mobile software. There were also problems with iCloud, Apple’s online communications, media storage and backup service formally launched on Wednesday, with users reporting glitches such as losing their email access.
Those concerns pale compared to the problems for rival Research in Motion, which has been grappling with an international outage of its Blackberry email and messaging services for several days.
The vast majority of the iPhone 4S buyers at the Sydney store appeared to be existing Apple customers, many having bought the original iPhone and its subsequent upgrades. "I have been waiting for the iPhone 5 for a long time. But since Jobs died, I wanted to make sure I had a new iPhone with some advantages over the old," said iPhone devotee Mark Du, concerned over future Apple gadgets without Jobs in charge.
Apple fans in Sydney and Tokyo made sure Jobs was part of the iPhone 4S launch, with flower, candle and photo shrines to the late Apple boss erected outside the stores.
Apple said it did not release sales figures on launch day, so gauging initial sales is difficult. Apple said it had taken more than 1 million online orders in the first 24 hours after its release, exceeding the 600,000 for the iPhone 4, though that model was sold in fewer countries initially.