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iPhone 5 launch draws Apple fans worldwide (+videos)

By Kelvin Chan

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Sept. 21 2012 3:08 p.m. MDT

Foot's dedication was largely a marketing stunt, however. He writes product reviews for a technology website that will give away the phone after Foot reviews it.

"I just want to get the phone so I can feel it, compare it and put it on our website," he said while slumped in his chair.

In Paris, the phone launch was accompanied by a workers' protest — a couple dozen former and current Apple employees demonstrated peacefully to demand better work benefits. Some decried what they called Apple's transformation from an offbeat company into a multinational powerhouse.

But the protesters — urged by a small labor union to demonstrate at Apple stores around France — were far outnumbered by lines of would-be buyers on the sidewalk outside the store near the city's gilded opera house.

Not everyone lining up at the various Apple stores was an enthusiast, though. In Hong Kong, university student Kevin Wong, waiting to buy a black 16 gigabyte model for 5,588 Hong Kong dollars ($720), said he was getting one "for the cash." He planned to immediately resell it to one of the numerous grey market retailers catering to mainland Chinese buyers. China is one of Apple's fastest growing markets but a release date for the iPhone 5 there has not yet been set.

Wong was required to give his local identity card number when he signed up for his iPhone on Apple's website. The requirement prevents purchases by tourists including mainland Chinese, who have a reputation for scooping up high-end goods on trips to Hong Kong because there's no sales tax and because of the strength of China's currency. Even so, the mainlanders will probably buy it from the resellers "at a higher price — a way higher price," said Wong, who hoped to make a profit of HK$1,000 ($129).

A similar money-making strategy was being pursued in London, where many in the crowds — largely from the city's extensive Asian community — planned to either send the phones to family and friends back home as gifts or sell them in countries where they are much more expensive.

"It makes a really nice gift to family back home," said Muhammad Alum, 30, a minicab driver from Bangladesh. "It will be two or three weeks before there is a SIM card there that can work it, but it's coming soon."

Others who had waited overnight said the iPhones cost roughly twice as much in India as in Britain, making them very welcome as gifts.

Tokyo's glitzy downtown Ginza district not only had a long line in front of the Apple store, but another across the main intersection at Softbank, the first carrier in Japan to offer iPhones.

Hidetoshi Nakamura, a 25-year-old auto engineer, said he's an Apple fan because it's an innovator.

"I love Apple," he said, standing near the end of a two-block-long line, reading a book and listening to music on his iPod.

"It's only the iPhone for me."

Chan reported from Hong Kong.

Ted Shaffrey and Peter Svensson in New York, Kristen Gelineau in Sydney, Yuri Kageyama in Tokyo, Faris Mokhtar in Singapore, Tom Rayner and Gregory Katz in London and Oleg Cetinic in Paris contributed to this report.

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