The iPhone 4S (s aapl) is now officially available for sale at Apple retail stores in the U.S. (east coast), as well as at partner retail stores including Sprint(s s), Verizon(s vz), AT&T (s t) and Best Buy (s bby) to name a few. Retail sales began at 8 a.m. Friday morning, but lines formed long before then.
Over 100 had lined up in Japan nearly 11 hours prior to launch in that country, and lines all over the U.S. and Canada now extend beyond 100, too. According to Rob Shoesmith, the dedicated U.K. fan who lined up a full two weeks early to get his hands on an iPhone 4S, there were “thousands” in line for the new phone at the Covent Garden Apple Store in London.
Early rain didn’t dampen the spirits of iPhone 4S buyers at the NYC 5th Ave. store, with around 400 people currently in line, and there were about 100 people waiting at the Eaton Centre Apple Store in Toronto as of around 12 a.m. Friday morning, and there were over 300 people waiting in line in Vancouver as of around 3 a.m. PDT.
Pre-order sales for the iPhone 4S both online through Apple itself and through its carrier partners garnered more than 1 million sales on just day one. Estimates from analysts about the anticipated size of opening weekend sales range from 2 to 3 million for most, with Carl Howe of Yankee Group predicting 4 million. At the very least, it should “easily outpace any previous launch,” as Needham & Co. analyst Charlie Wolf puts it.
For those considering trying to go out and get an iPhone 4S on day one, official Apple retail stores are known to have way more units on hand than partner stores, but as my colleague Kevin Tofel found out earlier this year with the iPad 2, sometimes finding a less frequented affiliate retailer with much less stock on hand actually leads to longer lines, especially in more rural or densely populated areas.
Are you waiting in line, or did you already get your phone? Share your launch day stories in the comments.