* Record sales pace expected as Apple pre-orders top 2 mln
* Sales start in Australia with 600 at flagship Sydney store
* High-margin iPhone sales expected to fuel strong quarter
* Apple mapping app, lack of payments chip criticised
SYDNEY/SAN FRANCISCO, Sept 21 Apple Inc's
iPhone 5 hit stores around the globe on Friday, with
fans snapping up the device that is expected to fuel a huge
holiday quarter for the consumer giant.
The new phone -- which was unveiled last week -- went on
sale first in Australia when stores there opened at 8.00 a.m.
local time (2200 GMT, Thursday).
Long lines marked the phone's debut in Sydney, with an
estimated 600 people queuing around the block and customers
limited to buying a maximum of two phones.
Most of those waiting were aficionados already hooked on
Apple's earlier iPhones and best-selling iPad tablet computers.
"I feel like if I leave it at home, I go a bit crazy," James
Vohradsky, a 20-year-old student said of his current iPhone. "I
have to drive back and get it. I can't do my normal day without
it," said Vohradsky, who had queued for 17 hours with his
The California company has booked more than 2 million
pre-orders for the device in the first 24 hours, double the
first-day sales of the previous iPhone 4S.
Some analysts expect Apple to sell up to 10 million iPhone 5
models in the remaining days of September.
The new phone has a larger, 4-inch screen and is slimmer and
far lighter than the previous model. The iPhone 5 supports the
faster 4G network and also comes with a number of software
updates, including Apple's new in-house maps feature.
The new maps feature, however has been criticized by some
users for a number of geographical errors, missing information
and a lack of features.
Vohradsky said the lack of mobile payment chip was also "a
bit of a letdown". Apple did not embed Near Field Communication
technology used to turn cellphones into mobile wallets into the
The iPhone is Apple's highest-margin product and accounts
for half of its annual revenue. Apple has said it will make
initial deliveries of the iPhone 5 on Friday in the United
States and most of the major European markets, such as France,
Germany and the United Kingdom. The phone then goes on sale on
Sept. 28 in 22 other countries.
Apple plans to sell the new phone in 100 countries by the
end of the year.
Influential reviewer Walt Mossberg labeled it the best
smartphone on the market but criticized the mapping application.
The latest iPhone comes as competition in the smartphone
market has reached a fever pitch with Apple up against phones
that run on Google Inc's Android software. Android has
become the most-used mobile operating system in the world, while
Apple's key supplier and rival, Samsung Electronics,
has taken the lead in smartphone sales.