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Some people turned up simply for the party atmosphere.
"I'm not worried about getting my hands on a phone, I queued up to make new friends, it's a festival," said Nobuhiko Hirota outside the Tokyo store, holding a Blackberry mobile phone he says recently bought to collect because he says he expects carriers to soon stop selling them.
Some analysts expect Apple to sell up to 10 million iPhone 5 models in the remaining days of September and JP Morgan estimates the phone release could provide a $3.2 billion boost to the U.S. economy in the fourth quarter.
The new phone has a larger, 4-inch screen and is slimmer and far lighter than the previous model. The iPhone 5 supports faster 4G mobile networks and also comes with a number of software updates, including Apple's new in-house maps feature.
Apple doesn't disclose which companies make the components that go into its smartphones and teardowns of the latest product give investors a vital glimpse of who has been chosen - or rejected - a development that can sometimes cause drastic swings in stock prices.
Earlier this month, shares of Audience Inc, a small speciality chip maker, plummeted 63 percent after the company said Apple would no longer use its noise filtering technology in the iPhone 5.
MAPS MISS MARK
But not everyone is impressed with the standard of the new technology. The new maps feature has been criticized by some users for a number of geographical errors, missing information and a lack of features.
Kim Tudo, a student at the University of New South Wales who queued overnight, said he was disappointed the turn-by-turn navigation feature under the iOS 6 mobile operating system behind the new phone was not immediately available in Australia.
Vohradsky said the lack of mobile payment chip was also "a bit of a letdown". Apple did not embed Near Field Communication (NFC) technology used to turn cellphones into mobile wallets into the iPhone 5.
Tudo and Vohradsky were less bothered by Apple's decision to drop the wide dock connector used in the company's gadgets for the best part of a decade in favour of a smaller one, a move that some critics have noted adds to costs for users who will now have to buy an adaptor for speakers or other accessories.
The iPhone is Apple's highest-margin product and accounts for half of its annual revenue. Apple has said it will make initial deliveries of the iPhone 5 on Friday in the United States and most of the major European markets, such as France, Germany and Britain. The phone then goes on sale on Sept. 28 in 22 other countries.
Apple plans to sell the new phone in 100 countries by the end of the year, ramping up competition in a smartphone market that has already reached a fever pitch. Apple is up against phones that run on Google Inc's Android software, which has become the most-used mobile operating system in the world, while Samsung has taken the lead in smartphone sales.
Samsung released new ads mocking Apple fans queuing for the new iPhone, showing users favourably comparing the features of Samsung's top-selling Galaxy S3 smartphone.
"I just feel this impulse, like I want to be part of this big adventure, this big revolution and this advance in technology," Wozniak, who stopped working for Apple in the late 1980s, told local television.