SINGAPORE, Nov 3 — Long lines formed outside Apple Inc stores around the world, a sign of strong demand from consumers waiting for the company’s 10th anniversary iPhone X.
Beginning last night locally, crowds surrounded Apple’s retail stores in Singapore, Japan, and Australia, recalling the throngs that formed on the first day of iPhone sales on June 29, 2007. One big difference is the price: the iPhone X starts at US$999 (RM4,227), double the US$499 entry-level price of the first version.
Videos and photos published on Twitter showed security guards sectioning off those waiting in line outside Apple’s Orchard Road store in Singapore. In Sydney, fans set up lawn chairs while others sold their spots in line just hours before the phone was scheduled to go on sale in the region. Lines outside Tokyo’s Ginza Apple Store snaked down more than two blocks.
Mazen Kourouche was among the first to get the iPhone X today at the Apple Store in Sydney, which opened at 8am local time, an hour earlier than usual. The 20-year-old software engineering student, who pre-ordered the X, said he upgrades his iPhone every year.
“The whole size and the screen and the new dimension of it, that’s the most beneficial feature for me,” Kourouche said. “It’s a full screen — edge to edge — it looks nice.”
At the Apple store in Tokyo, Iori Watanabe and his brother arrived two days early to be the first ones in a line of more than 500 people. Watanabe, a 21-year-old who works at camera maker Olympus Corp, said he wanted to replace his iPhone 5 and was most interested in the new phone for its screen and facial-recognition technology.
Apple is known for creating hype around each new iPhone launch. But in recent years, online pre-orders and other buying options reduced store lines. This year, Apple has marketed the iPhone X heavily, and new features like facial recognition and the edge-to-edge screen are stoking demand.
Concern about limited initial supplies of the phone may also have drawn shoppers to Apple stores on launch day. In an announcement last month, Apple encouraged those without reservations to “arrive early,” an indication of its anticipated crowds. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said yesterday that demand for the iPhone X was “very, very strong,” without being more specific.
Apple stopped reporting opening weekend iPhone sales with the iPhone 7, citing demand that far outstripped supply. However, the company hasn’t indicated if it will follow that trend with the iPhone X (it didn’t report opening weekend numbers for the iPhone 8 last month). The company’s strongest weekend launch was the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus in 2015, which saw more than 13 million units sold over the initial days.
In the past few weeks, Apple started video advertisements, put posters on the walls of its retail store chain, and has replaced its web homepage with pictures of the sleek, new device.
When the phone became available online last week for pre-orders, people around the world went to drastic measures to secure one, staying up all night armed with multiple devices ready to place an order at midnight California time. Many were disappointed when they found that instead of receiving their phone November 3, they’d have to wait in to December, as the initial stock sold out in most major cities within half an hour.
Those hoping for a second-chance, by walking in to an Apple store today, face lines the likes of which haven’t been seen in many years. But some online customers got good news: Some orders originally scheduled for delivery in the middle of November are seeing shipment notifications indicating that their devices will arrive early next week. Waiting times for new iPhone X orders also improved yesterday, with the shipping time changing to three-to-four weeks from five-to-six weeks on Apple’s online stores in the UK, Singapore, New Zealand, Japan, Germany, Italy, France, Australia, and Greater China. Shipping times remain five-to-six weeks in the US and Canada, while Hong Kong still lists online orders as “unavailable.”
Stores will likely sell out of the iPhone X quickly, in part because of pent-up demand. Many people eschewed the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, which came out in September, waiting for the snazzier iPhone X, one of the most exhaustive overhauls of the phone ever. During the first four days of availability online, the iPhone X got more than double the number of pre-orders than the last major iPhone revamp, the iPhone 6, from 2014, according to data from Slice Intelligence.
Apple has struggled to get the iPhone X to the market on time and some analysts have warned that there may still be too few iPhone Xs to meet initial demand.
The Cupertino, California, technology giant introduced the iPhone X in September, nearly two months before the release. That’s the longest period of time between a new iPhone’s introduction and its sale date since the six-month waiting period between the original iPhone’s debut and launch date in 2007. — Bloomberg