Apple’s iPhone 8 sees muted launch in Asia

SYDNEY/TOKYO (Reuters) – Apple Inc’s (AAPL.O) launch of iPhone 8 kicked off in a less lively mood in Asia, versus previous debuts, as fans held out for the premium iPhone X due out in early November.

Hundreds of people usually gather at Apple’s Sydney city store with queues winding down the town’s main street, George Street, when there is a new product release. But there were fewer than 30 people lining up before the store opened on Friday, according to a Reuters witness.

While the number of people queuing up outside Apple stores have dropped over the years with many opting for online purchases, the weak turnout for the latest iPhone has partly been due to poor reviews.

Mazen Kourouche, who was first in queue after lining up 11 days outside the store so he could buy and review the product on YouTube, said there were modest refinements.

“(It) is pretty similar to the iPhone 7 but it shoots 4k 60 frames per second and it’s got a new glass back instead of the metal which is apparently more durable,” he told Reuters. “There aren’t too many new features to this one.”

In China, a loyal Apple customer said the improved camera was one of the reasons she purchased the new device.

Apple customers camp outside of Sydney’s flagship Apple store on the first day the iPhone 8 went on sale in Sydney, Australia, September 22, 2017. AAP/Joel Carrett/via REUTERS

“I waited until midnight to watch the launch event with my boyfriend to learn what’s new with this iPhone. Its photograph function is pretty good. So I think I must change with no hesitation,” said 29-year-old consumer Ta Na in Shanghai.

Mentions of iPhone 8 and iPhone X on popular Chinese social media platform Weibo, an indicator of consumer interest, were less than levels seen before the previous two launches.

Poor reviews of the iPhone 8, which comes 10 years after Apple released the first version of the revolutionary phone, drove down shares of the company to near two-month lows of $152.75 on Thursday, as investors worried pre-orders for the device had come in well below previous launches.

The iPhone 8 will only cater to those who want a new version but do not want to pay a hefty $999 for the iPhone X, said iTWire.com’s technology editor Alex Zaharov-Reutt, who did not line up for the launch.

The iPhone X is a glass and stainless steel device with an edge-to-edge display that Chief Executive Tim Cook has called “the biggest leap forward since the original iPhone”.

“I think it’ll be more lively with more people with the iPhone X,” said Ray Yokoyama, after buying an iPhone 8 in Tokyo.

Reporting by Paulina Duran, Jill Gralow and James Redmayne in SYDNEY, Teppei Kasai in TOKYO, Jiang Xihao in SHANGHAI, Joyce Zhou in Beijing, and Pak Yiu in Hong Kong; Editing by Miyoung Kim and Himani Sarkar

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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