Like their counterparts in other global cities, Australians lined up on Friday morning to buy Apple's iPhone 5 officially launched last week but made available only beginning Sept 21 in retail outlets in selected countries.
However, with Australia's geographical location, citizens of the land down under would be among the first around the world to purchase the device, expected to be the bestselling mobile device of all time based on pre-sold orders of 2 million units in one day.
The Australian reported long lines at Apple's flagship store in George Street, Sydney as shoppers and several companies share head-of-the-queue places to be the first to own a unit and secure free media publicity. The Apple store opened at 8 a.m.
While some consumers were willing to fall in line early morning to be the first to own the iPhone 5, telecommunications firms Telstra spoiled buyers at its flagship store at 400 George Street, located across the road from the Apple store, by offering them cushioned seats and waiter services while waiting for their turn to buy the gadget.
Telstra said in a statement that the same luxurious service is available at its flagship stores in Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth where it opened 100 retail outlets at 8 a.m., local time across Australia.
Rival Optus said shoppers who pre-ordered the iPhone 5 will get top priority in their queue. The telco also offered assistance from tech experts at its flagship stores in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth.
Falling in line for iPhone buyers has become a source of quick money for some people, whether the lines are in Sydney, New York, San Francisco or London. About 200 people are expected to queue on Friday morning in New York and San Francisco Bay Area.
Unique services such as falling in line for the iPhone 5 could be arranged through the Web site TaskRabbit. The portal also offers to do other odd jobs such as assembling Ikea furniture.
Bloomberg reported that the cost of asking someone to queue for the iPhone Friday sale, dubbed the biggest consumer electronics debut in history, is $55, 18 per cent of which will go to TaskRabbit as service fee while the remaining $45.10 would go to the person who is willing to line up for someone else for several hours.
Similar professional line waiting services are available in Craigslist. However, TaskRabbit's offers is limited in scope to seven Apple stores. The iPhone would also be sold at Walmart and other mobile operator retail shops which are expected to boost the number of smartphone owners globally.
Macquarie Securities analyst Kevin Smithen estimates that at the rate American consumers are snapping up smartphones, owners are expected to reach almost 140 million by the end of 2012 or 57 per cent of wireless customers. The number is expected to exceed 70 per cent by the end of 2013.
However, Mr Smithen told CNN that the smartphone market, particularly the iPhone segment, will slow down in 2013 after a very strong shipment of the next iPhone through the yearend. He noted that most of iPhone buyers are brand-new customers who purchased two-thirds of the 30 million iPhones sold in the U.S. in 2011.
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