By Juro Osawa
HONG KONG--More than 100 people gathered amid tight security outside Hong Kong's Apple Store early Friday as they awaited their chance to buy an iPhone 5, the latest version of Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) smartphone.
The atmosphere was orderly. More than a dozen security guards were on hand, and the store had pre-empted the possibility of an overly large crowd forming by making the iPhone 5 available only to people who had made online reservations to buy one of the devices via Apple's web page for Hong Kong.
The store, inside a shopping mall in the International Finance Center building, also set up an airport check-in style waiting area for people in front of the entrance, but shoppers weren't allowed to enter that area until a few minutes before the shop's doors opened.
The crowd stood patiently alongside the wall across from the entrance, with the security staff hovering nearby. Most of the noise and fanfare came from the store's employees, all clad in blue T-shirts, who began chanting "iPhone 5! iPhone 5!" before the shop opened. When the doors opened, security staff and store employees escorted the people who had made reservations, one by one, into the store.
Kevin Tse, a 26-year-old employee at an advertising company, was among the first people to pick up the new iPhone. He bought two, one for himself and one for his girlfriend.
Mr. Tse, who had bought one of Samsung Electronics Co.'s (005930.SE) flagship Galaxy SIII smartphones just a few months ago, decided to buy the iPhone 5 because he was attracted to new features such as its larger screen, which measures four inches diagonally, compared with the 3.5-inch screen on earlier models.
Mr. Tse said he owned an iPhone 4S, the previous model of Apple's smartphone, before buying the Galaxy SIII, adding he preferred the Samsung phone's larger screen. "But I'm now switching back to the iPhone," he said.
Dixon Cheung, 24, also bought two of the latest iPhones, saying he planned to sell one of them. Mr. Cheung, who works at an apparel factory, has been using the iPhone for years, starting with the iPhone 3GS. "It's the most user-friendly phone," he said.
Write to Juro Osawa at email@example.com
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