iPhone 5 Hits Stores Worldwide, Apple Fans Rejoice

Apple fans worldwide rejoice as the long-awaited iPhone 5 smartphone hits store shelves.

Reports that Apple's in-house mapping application for the iPhone 5 was less than impressive failed to dampen enthusiasm for the smartphone, which finally went on sale around the world as eager fans spent the prior days camping out in front of Apple stores from Seattle to Sydney. For those who took advantage of the preorder sales window which began last week, the majority of those orders will be delivered to customers Sept. 21, but many are scheduled to be delivered in October due to high demand and limited supply, Apple said Monday.

The launch of the iPhone 5 was one of the year's most anticipated events in the consumer technology market, and with Apple facing renewed competition from handset manufacturers like Samsung and a bevy of advanced handsets running Google's Android operating system, the eyes of industry analysts will be watching closely to see how the product sells. All indications so far suggest the iPhone 5 is on track to be Apple's most popular smartphone ever, with preorders breaking the 2 million-unit mark just 24 hours after going on sale. The figure was more than double the record set by the iPhone 4S.

Following record iPhone 5 preorders, Canaccord Genuity technology analyst Michael Walkley said he believes Apple could ship 9 million to 10 million iPhone 5 models by Sept. 29, compared with a previous 6 million-unit estimate. "Given our checks combined with Apple's plans for an aggressive iPhone 5 ramp to 240 carriers in 100 countries by year-end, we remain confident in our above-consensus December-quarter iPhone estimates," he added in a research note.

The iPhone 5 will roll out worldwide to 22 more countries on Sept. 28, including Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland, Apple said in a press statement. The iPhone 5 is available from the Apple Online Store, the company's retail stores, and through network operators AT&T, Sprint and Verizon Wireless. The company also noted select Best Buy, RadioShack, Target and Walmart stores, and select Apple Authorized Resellers would also carry the device.

"With the launch of the latest device from Cupertino just days before the end of the quarter, it is likely that the full impact of iPhone sales will not register until the next quarter, 4Q12, the most important in the calendar. The iPhone 4S, which will remain in market, but at a significantly reduced price, will help boost sales, and [we expect] total iPhone sales to reach close on a company record 50 million in 4Q12," David McQueen, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media, said in a research note. However, Apple faces continued pressure from Samsung, and now Nokia with its new range of Lumia devices running on the Windows Phone 8. In combination, the strength of these devices and platforms will combine to give the most competitive and intriguing smartphone quarter for a number of years."

The iPhone 5 is the thinnest and lightest iPhone ever, and has been completely redesigned to feature a larger 4-inch Retina display, an Apple-designed A6 chip and 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) connectivity, a feature offered by several of Apple's competitors. The handset also runs iOS 6, the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system, and offers more than 200 new user features, including the much-maligned Maps app with Apple-designed cartography and turn-by-turn navigation.