Global stempede for iPhone 5S, 5C turns to chaos and more…

Campout’s for the new iPhone turned into chaos on Friday morning when two men were arrested for fighting outside an Apple Store and a man’s plan to hire homeless people to wait in line for the devices backfired.

Dozens of people recruited at a Los Angeles homeless shelter to buy iPhones in bulk at a Pasadena store were left unpaid, so they mobbed the man who had hired them. One of the homeless men was placed on a 72-hour mental health hold after running into the street in an enraged state.

Dominoe Moody, 43, said he was driven the 10 miles or so to Pasadena from Los Angeles with several vanloads of people to wait in line. He was promised $40 but said he wasn’t paid because after handing the man an iPhone, the man was escorted away by police when people became angry with him.

Moody said, “It didn’t go right. I stood out here all night,that he has no way to get back to Los Angeles.”

The would-be entrepreneur, whose name was not released, was clutching a single bag stuffed with iPhones when he was escorted into a police cruiser and driven away at around 9.30am local time. The man was not cited because he did nothing illegal.

In a separate incident hours earlier at the same store, two men were arrested after getting into a fistfight while in line along Colorado Boulevard.

George Westbrook, 23, of Compton, and Lamar Mitchell, 43, of Pasadena, were cited for fighting in public.No significant injuries were reported.

Customers clamoring for the new devices shrugged off the notion that Apple, which has been losing market share to rivals, had lost its edge in innovation. But some complained about the high price. David Kaminsky, first in line at the Apple store in Bethesda, Maryland, said he had waited more than 12 hours for the 8am opening, to ensure he got one of the gold-colored iPhones. “It’s not just the technology – it’s the experience, the simplicity,” he said.

In New York, 19-year-old musician Brian Ceballo said he waited for 15 days outside the Fifth Avenue store to get the 5S model, and was impressed by the phone’s new fingerprint identity system and slow-motion camera. “Every time it surprises people,” he said.

In Tokyo, a lucrative new deal with Japan’s biggest mobile carrier lent some celebrity glitz to the opening in the nation of gadget-lovers. Diehard fans began lining up last week and even sat through a weekend storm to keep their spot in a queue that grew to around a kilometre in length by opening time, police estimated.

Media helicopters hovered over Tokyo, where a man dressed as Batman waited outside the Apple store in upmarket Ginza next to a woman with a shock of pink hair and a life-size Steve Jobs pillow. Actor Ken Watanabe, star of Inception and Letters From Iwo Jima, was on hand to welcome buyers with a handshake and a broad smile at Docomo’s main Tokyo shop, marking the new alliance between Apple and the country’s biggest carrier.

The firm, the mobile unit of NTT, which has about 42 percent of the Japanese market, has shed more than 3.5 million subscribers to rivals since 2008, when SoftBank first rolled out the iPhone in Japan, local media have reported. Hisako Nagashima, a 34-year-old manicurist who was waiting to snap up an iPhone 5S in gold, said it had been make-or-break time for her relationship with the company.”If NTT Docomo had not released iPhone this time, I would have changed carriers,” she said.

There was no crush in China, where Apple had a pre-booking system to avoid a repeat of the near-riot in Beijing at the 2011 release of the iPad 2 that left four people in hospital. Those prepared to shell out a minimum 4488 yuan ($730) for the pared-down iPhone 5C, or at least 5288 yuan for the iPhone 5S, said they didn’t mind the cost. “It’s not about the price, it’s about the brand, I think Apple is the best,” said Chang Yi, a 29-year-old real-estate salesman.

Others milling around outside the store had a different opinion. “It’s too expensive… it’s a luxury item,” said 19-year-old student Meng Jia. “If the price was around 2,000 yuan, I would buy one.”

Singapore’s biggest carrier Singtel said it expected 10,000 people to pick up their new iPhones at its launch event, and that there had been a rush on the gold model. “Our gold-color iPhones were completely sold out within four minutes when we opened online reservations on 18 September,” said a Singtel spokesman.

In Australia, the sticker price shocked some consumers. “Incredible – Apple charging $99 for iPhone 5C in the USA (with a contract) but $740 in Australia and its $1200 for 5S – no wonder Android phones are popular,” tweeted David Smith.

The polycarbonate-bodied 5C, supposedly aimed at budget-conscious shoppers, was widely flagged as Apple’s answer to the onslaught of cheaper, Android-powered models, led by Samsung. Apple has not revealed what the ‘C’ stands for, but did not knock down months of media speculation that it was intended to signify “cheap” or “China”.

In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek published on Thursday, Apple chief executive Tim Cook said quality had always been the driving force. “We never had an objective to sell a low-cost phone,” Mr Cook told the magazine. “Our primary objective is to sell a great phone and provide a great experience, and we figured out a way to do it at a lower cost.”

The new phones were on sale Friday in the US, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore and Britain, with other rollouts due.

In Maryland, an Israeli who identified himself only as Idan BT, said he wanted one “because it won’t be available in my country for another four months, and at double the price.” Despite their simultaneous availability in China – the first time Apple has brought the country online in the initial wave – Hong Kong’s resellers were pouncing, hoping to flip the phones for as much as double what they paid. “Handsome boy, are you selling your phones?” a reseller was heard discreetly saying, before leading new iPhone 5S owners to the back stairs of the shopping mall to carry out the transaction.

And if all that wasn’t enough, iPhone 5S is being offered for sale on eBay in the UK for as much as STG2000 ($A3418) by those anticipating enthusiastic fans will pay over the odds to get their hands on the device.

The wait for the new handset finally ended on Friday as thousands of people streamed through the doors of Apple stores around the country, many of them having camped out for days. The 5S device, said to be twice as fast as its predecessor, is available in the UK through EE, O2, Three, Carphone Warehouse and Phones4u priced at STG549 (16GB), STG629 (32GB) and STG709 (64GB).

But with hundreds of listings on eBay for the device with fixed prices running into the thousands, it appears that those who have already bought it are hoping to cash in and make a hefty profit.
Some tech fans began queuing outside Apple’s flagship store in London’s Regent Street as early as Monday afternoon to buy Apple’s latest model, which is equipped with a fingerprint scanner.

Noah Green, 17, was the first in the queue, and said he turned down offers of up to STG5000 ($A8547) for his prime spot but would have only considered giving up his place for STG10,000. Emerging from the store 20 minutes after the doors opened to rapturous applause, the teen, clutching a limited edition gold device, said: “It’s the best feeling in the world”.He said had only left his vigil to shower at a nearby gym since setting up camp outside the store.

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