Hundreds line up to buy new iPhone

Thomas Smith, 32, of Boston, tries out the video on his new iPhone after standing in line outside the Apple Store in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, on Thursday, June 24, 2010. "This is going to be the talk of the office today," says Smith. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)Thomas Smith, 32, of Boston, tries out the video on his new iPhone after standing in line outside the Apple Store in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, on Thursday, June 24, 2010. “This is going to be the talk of the office today,” says Smith. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Apple Inc.’s newest iPhone was selling briskly Thursday as thousands lined up outside stores around the world to become among the first to own the device amid concerns of supply shortages.

The iPhone 4’s launch began in Japan and sold out by early afternoon at the flagship store of Softbank, Apple’s exclusive wireless carrier there. The launch moved across France, Germany and the U.K. before going on sale at 7 a.m. in each time zone in the U.S. Some stores abroad had midnight openings.

More than with 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 exclusive wireless partner in the U.S., 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.

Sean Hill, 39, a Washington police officer who had pre-ordered his phone, smiled and proudly held the phone up for the crowd to see as he walked out of the newly opened Apple store in the Georgetown neighborhood.

“I’m like a kid in a candy store,” Mr. Hill said. “I’m probably going to spend all morning playing with it.”

Those 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 wouldn’t say whether it believes it has enough iPhones on hand.

“I am going to be very disappointed and upset if they run out before I get one,” said Jasmine Cordova, 25, an administrative assistant in Brooklyn. “They have been advertising and hyping for months. They should make sure to stock enough.”

In Paris, 24-year-old shoe salesman Julien Remy went to buy one 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.

In Aventura, Fla., Loren and Veronica McHenry held out hope after miscommunications landed them at the back of the line. They had arrived at 9 p.m. Wednesday and were told no one was allowed on mall property overnight. They returned only to learn that 120 people had camped out at a nearby parking lot.

“There’s no coordination between the mall employees, security and law enforcement,” said Loren McHenry, 42, shaking his head in disbelief. “It’s a mess. … They said we’ll all get iPhones. I hope that’s true.”

The new iPhone model, the fourth model since the original came out in 2007, is thinner with a better-resolution screen and longer battery life.

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

It features a new operating system that can also be installed on some older models, such as the 3GS, along with cameras on both sides to permit face-to-face video calls.

“This is revolutionary in the U.S. for deaf people to have a mobile device they can use to communicate in their native language,” said Beth Henriksen, 30, a sign language interpreter in Washington.

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