Thursday 17 October 2019

Apple's core fans flock to flagship store for iPhone 11

Company CEO Tim Cook waves to customers outside the newly redesigned Apple store on Fifth Avenue, New York. Photo: Bloomberg
Company CEO Tim Cook waves to customers outside the newly redesigned Apple store on Fifth Avenue, New York. Photo: Bloomberg

Molly Schuetz and Kiley Roache

Apple's latest iPhone models hit US stores this weekend and while the 11 series was seen as an incremental upgrade, early indications suggest more people than expected were keen to get their hands on one.

The new line of hardware, including three new phones and an updated Apple Watch and iPads, was introduced on September 10 and customers were able to place pre-orders last week to either be delivered or picked up in stores today.

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Queues outside Apple stores around the world were typically shorter or non-existent this year, but tourists and customers thronged the flagship Fifth Avenue location in Manhattan, which has undergone a makeover.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook was on site for the opening and stood out on the store's plaza across from Central Park taking selfies with fans.

Sam Sheffer had already picked up his green iPhone 11 Pro in Manhattan's SoHo store yesterday morning, queuing for less than five minutes. But he went uptown to see the new store and potentially get a glimpse of Cook. "For me, a die-hard enthusiast, I wouldn't be able to live knowing there was an iPhone I didn't have," Sheffer said.

Apple shares were up less than 1pc yesterday morning in New York to $222.02, valuing the company at just over $1trn.

Apple's latest iPhone faced some hurdles heading in to its annual revamp. Sales of the iconic smartphone have declined in the past three quarters, as US prices crept above $1,000 and people hung on to their current models longer.

A lack of revolutionary features on this year's model could keep some fans holding out until 2020, when significantly faster 5G networks and a revamped design will open up new possibilities with the phone. At the same time, the trade war between the US and China is also starting to take a toll.

But some early reports from analysts pointed to encouraging signs for Apple. Rosenblatt Securities said it is seeing "some new model production increases for September and October for the new iPhone models." Jun Zhang, an analyst at Rosenblatt, wrote that the firm now sees volume increasing by three to five million units more than earlier expectations, to 68 million to 70 million units.

Apple set the base model price at $699 for the iPhone 11, down from the iPhone XR's $749 price last year and below some analysts' expectations. That might help attract first-time buyers to its expanding entertainment and services ecosystem.

Longbow Research analyst Shawn Harrison said Apple could be seeing a "potential higher floor in iPhone demand," and that "initial iPhone search trends are positively surprising".


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