The $1,000 price tag on Apple Inc.’s new iPhone X didn’t deter throngs of enthusiasts around the world who waited — sometimes overnight — in long lines with no guarantee they would walk out of the store with one of the coveted devices.
At Apple’s flagship Fifth Avenue store in Manhattan, the line coiled up and down several times along 58thStreet and extended across Madison and over toward Park Avenue. Apple was only letting in 10 customers at a time, so people were likely due for an even longer wait. Luckily, the weather in New York City was unseasonably warm and sunny.
Jun Yu Lin, 19, a student, arrived at the line at 8 a.m., just as the store was opening. He joined the queue about a block-and-a-half away and after one hour had barely budged.
“I feel anxiety right now,” he said. “I’m not sure if they’re going to have the supply.”
Similar scenes played out across the world Friday, recalling the throngs that formed on the first day of iPhone sales on June 29, 2007. While pre-orders last week sold out quickly, and pushed delivery out into December, Apple said Thursday it has added more production capacity and that those six-week waiting times would be reduced.
“Lines counts exceeded our expectations by more than 2x, signaling strong demand for the iPhone X,” said Gene Munster, co-founder of Loop Ventures who has measured lines outside Apple stores on iPhone launch days for years.
With buoyant demand for the new handset, Apple is projecting record revenue of $84 billion to $87 billion during the holiday quarter, easing concerns among investors that production problems would undercut sales. The stock closed up 2.6 percent to $172.50 in trading Friday.
In New York, at least two Chinese-speaking Apple employees were deployed to help manage the huge line, which had many visitors from China and elsewhere. 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. In London, Apple employees cheered as the first customers exited the store after buying the new handset.
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 Thursday that demand for the iPhone X was “very, very strong,” without being more specific.
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 25 percent more 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.
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