Pragmatism, not passion, pulls Parisians to iPhone 4S

Apple has plenty of ardent fans, but a more subdued crowd showed up for the first day of retail store sales for the newest iPhone.

Hundreds of people lined up in front of Apple's store near Paris's opera house to buy an iPhone 4S.
Hundreds of people lined up in front of Apple's store near Paris's opera house to buy an iPhone 4S. Stephen Shankland/CNET

PARIS--The newest iPhone may have not have been everything that fans had hoped it would be, but it was enough to draw hundreds to the Apple store here for the first day the iPhone 4S went on sale in stores .

Many arrived at the store next to Paris' opera house yesterday to get a head start in line for the fifth member of the iconic smartphone family. But as it turned out, spending the night in the chilly Parisian fall air wasn't entirely necessary as long as prospective customers didn't have to be at work early today. Those who arrived at 6 a.m. today got to enter the store about 10 a.m.

Despite the healthy-sized crowd, though, I didn't see much evidence of the sort of fanboy passion that sometimes accompanies the arrival of Apple products these days.

Raphael Journé seemed like a good candidate: He arrived in line early this morning to purchase his seventh iPhone. But the reason for the pre-dawn excursion was because of urgent work needs, he said.

"I lost mine two weeks ago," Journé said. "I work in mobile marketing. It's my tool for work."

And it's been tough waiting for the iPhone 4S. "I really need one. Look at this!" he exclaimed, holding up the "crappy" phone he's been suffering with in the meantime.

Paris resident Raphael Journé, about to buy his seventh iPhone, shows the "crappy" phone he's been suffering with for two weeks until Apple's latest smartphone went on sale.
Paris resident Raphael Journé, about to buy his seventh iPhone, shows the "crappy" phone he's been suffering with for two weeks until Apple's latest smartphone went on sale. Stephen Shankland/CNET

Laurent Rozenbaum turned up in line at 6 a.m.--but his presence also stemmed from a need for a new phone as soon as possible. "I have an iPhone 4, and it's dying," he said. He came to the store because he's two months too young for the credit card needed to order it online.

The Internet has been a popular place to get an iPhone. People pre-ordered more than 1 million iPhone 4S phones on the first day they were available.

In Paris, the iPhone 4S line wound its way back and forth between metal barriers staffed by security guards. Once the store opened at 8 a.m. local time, hundreds of customers began filing past a memorial of candles, flowers, and handwritten messages left in front of the store for Steve Jobs , who died last week .

The iPhone 4S looks very similar to the iPhone 4, but it brings and improved antenna, a dual-core A5 processor, better graphics, and at 64GB, double the possible amount of flash memory.

Another person in line had higher hopes for the next iPhone, but took the plunge anyway.

"I wanted to buy an iPhone 5, but I didn't want to wait much longer," said Wang Shuqi, who said he had been wishing for faster networking speeds.

But 4G networks are slower to arrive here in Europe than in the United States, and the network abilities of the iPhone 4S were evidently not a big deal for him.

"The 4G is better, but 3G is OK," Shuqi said.

He moved up from a Nokia phone. He was somewhat subdued--but he was still enthusiastic enough to arrive at 6 p.m. yesterday with his friends and wait more than 14 hours in line.

But Mark Exiga, another Parisian resident, was careful to distance himself from the Applemania that can attend new products.

"I'm not an addict," Exiga said. "I'm just buying a phone to get a gift for a friend."

 

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