Technology & Science

IPhone 4 sells briskly on 1st day of sales

Apple Inc.'s newest iPhone is in hot demand as hundreds line up outside stores in Tokyo, Berlin, New York and elsewhere to become among the first to own the device.

Apple Inc.'s newest iPhone was in hot demand Thursday as hundreds lined up outside stores in Tokyo, Berlin, New York and elsewhere to become among the first to own the device.

The iPhone 4's launch began in Japan and moved across France, Germany and the U.K. before going on sale in the United States at 7 a.m. in each time zone.

Customers line up to buy Apple's newest iPhone outside a store at the Ginza district in Tokyo on Thursday. ((Shizuo Kambayashi/Associated Press))

The newest model is thinner with a better-resolution screen and longer battery life. It features a new operating system that can also be installed on some older models, such as the 3GS.

Unlike past launches, there were worries about limited supplies after more than 600,000 people rushed to pre-order iPhones on the first day they were available, prompting Apple and its U.S. carrier, AT&T Inc., to stop taking orders for shipment by Thursday's launch. On Apple's website, new orders weren't promised for delivery until July 14.

AT&T stopped taking pre-orders entirely and won't have any iPhone 4s for people who didn't reserve them until June 29. That means people who didn't place an iPhone 4 order had to line up outside Apple stores Thursday in the hopes of snagging one on a first-come, first-served basis.

Apple won't say whether it believes it has enough iPhones to avoid disappointing those would-be buyers.

In Paris, 24-year-old Julien Remy, who works in shoe sales, went to buy the device during his lunch break, only to learn the store had run out of the higher-capacity model he wanted.

"Either I'll look elsewhere or come back later," he said.

Long lines formed from early morning across the city at Apple stores and retail outlets across Tokyo. At the Apple store in the swanky Ginza shopping district, staff handed out bottled water and lent black umbrellas with the company logo. A man dressed as a giant iPhone danced and waved his arms as he made it to the front of the line.

"I like the design. It's sleek — I think it's cool!" said Yoko Kosugi, 41, a graphic designer, who took her new phone out of her bag to show it off, plastic wrapping still on the screen.

In Germany, exclusive carrier Deutsche Telekom AG allowed customers to order the phone starting June 15, so many who lined up at stores were assured of getting a device.   

The 16 hours that 23-year-old Ben Paton waited in London to get one were "absolutely incredible, amazing," he said. "It's a once in a lifetime opportunity."